Commentary

Univ. of Iowa Pursuing PPP for Student Housing

The Daily Iowan reports that Housing officials at the University of Iowa are pursuing a public-private partnership (PPP) to ensure availability of graduate student housing. Over the past few years student interest in the units has lessened, then a 2008 flood damaged 76 units. Housing officials are meeting with the state’s Board of Regents on April 28 in Ames where they will discuss the following options after the units are razed:

  1. Reduce available graduate student housing by not replacing the units.
  2. Replace the units by having the University construct new units.
  3. Replace the units by having a private company construct new units through a PPP.

Housing officials believe using a PPP is the most cost-effective option, and have support from several community leaders. Richard Vedder, the director of the Center for College Affordability, told The Daily Iowan PPPs for student housing are becoming increasingly common and add value because “Private renovations, depending on the state, may offer more freedom than a state renovation alone. Universities don’t have to be so concerned with bidding, for example.” Iowa State Rep. Mary Mascher, D-Iowa City, supports the move as well telling The Daily Iowan, “(Her) general feeling is that schools are better at teaching and research, but they aren’t so good at things in the private sector like affordable housing.”

Vedder and Mascher’s analyses coincide with recent research published in Reason Foundation’s Annual Privatization Report 2010: State Government Privatization section and Reason Foundation’s 2007 study Privatizing University Housing.

Harris Kenny is a state and local government policy analyst at Reason Foundation, a non-profit think tank advancing free minds and free markets.

Harris has worked alongside policymakers in Colorado, Texas, Florida, North Carolina, Arizona, Oregon and elsewhere to implement public policy solutions. Harris is currently serving as a member of the Local Authority Working Group of Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper's Amendment 64 Task Force, which is providing guidance on implementing recreational marijuana legalization. He conducts research on public finance, public-private partnerships, privatization, public safety, criminal justice and regulatory policy issues.

Harris has appeared on various television and radio outlets, such as National Public Radio, HuffPost Live, Al Jazeera, Voice of Russia and Colorado Public Television. His writing has been published in The Wall Street Journal, The Denver Post, The Sacramento Bee, The Orange County Register, Real Clear Markets, reason.com, and other print and online outlets. He also serves as co-editor of Reason Foundation's Annual Privatization Report (reason.org/apr) and Innovators in Action (reason.org/innovators) publications.

Prior to joining Reason Foundation, Harris worked at the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation. He earned a BA in Economics from Pepperdine University, where he worked as a research assistant to Dr. Luisa Blanco at Pepperdine University's School of Public Policy.


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