Thursday, December 07, 2006

SIU University Housing and Social Security - what they have in common

I was thinking about SIU's on campus housing problems and realized that the best thing to compare it to was Social Security (at least financially). SIU built the dorms with Illinois and State backed bonds back in the 60's and 70's. A real landlord would have paid off the loans, kept maintenance up and been enjoying the fruit of their paid off loans by now, but not SIU. What SIU has done is bring the extra money into the general funds and play games with it. Now, the buildings are getting to the point of needing a total refresh and SIU doesn't have the money.

This is exactly what is happening with Social Security at the national level. Congress has blown the money and someday, they are going to have a real problem on their hands.

As some of you have guessed, I like to do real research before posting this kind of thing. I have gone out and asked a number of people who are in the building rental business or housing rental business in Carbondale if they would take over University Housing. I told them they could have the buildings, the same budget and revenues, layoff anyone and use anyone to do the job. One said, "yes!" The others asked if they had to take Evergreen Terrace and Small Group Housing, I said yes. Everyone likes the dorm business and the forced occupancy, but no one really wants the surrounding buildings. The thought is that if you rid yourself of the wasteful bureaucracy around University Housing that you would do well with Thomson Point and the Towers. You would have to borrow money against the buildings to do a referb, but that would work. Every businessman knows you have to pitch the wastefully SIU overhead or you are dead.

What do you think, if they gave you University Housing, would you take it? Could you make money?

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