Website aims to help Rutgers students find housing
When students are down to the final hour of the off-campus housing hunt, suspicious postings and difficult-to-maneuver websites only make the search more complicated. An online platform, uCribs, hopes to make that search easier for college students, especially at Rutgers-New Brunswick.
The site’s goal is to provide a good resource for students to find great off-campus housing close to school, said Colin Kish, vice president of strategic partnerships at uCribs.
“The whole purpose of going to school is to try and be involved and immersed in the college lifestyle and be around campus,” Kish said. “We don’t want to have properties that are 20 miles away — nobody’s going to use them.”
The platform started in 2013 with one college, the University of Delaware, and about 50 property listings, Kish said. Today the website has property listings at virtually almost every college, totaling more than 200,000 listings.
Rutgers joined the group of colleges on the website in the earlier part of 2015, he said. It is also a target area.
“We want to help the college students out,” Kish said. “The off-campus housing search can be a nightmare and pretty difficult at times. We’re really trying to increase the (number) of properties (in New Brunswick) and how much we have at Rutgers to help you guys out.”
While many students use Facebook or Craigslist to find housing or sublets, it may not be the wisest decision when it comes to safety, Kish said. The uCribs app focuses largely on making sure those safety concerns are addressed.
The platform establishes relationships with landlords and managers of property listings, as opposed to random postings like Facebook and Craigslist, which allow anyone to post anything at anytime.
“I’m sure you’ve heard of all the horror stories with Craigslist and the sketchy listings,” Kish said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s an apartment or you’re trying to get shoes, some of it can be really sketchy. With our listings, safety is of utmost concerns, so we have that ace in the hole, so to speak.”
There are features on uCribs that separate the platform from the sites Rutgers students already use to find off-campus housing, Kish said.
“We have an interactive map that works really well and you’re able to scroll through listings and organize your search efficiently,” he said. “And every listing on our platform will come up with a full description, amenities, pictures and walking distance from campus.”
An added feature, Kish said, are walk scores, which rates the walking distance of a property listing from zero to 100. In city locations, uCribs also features transit scores, which rate the quality of public transportation from an apartment to class.
“A 100 (for the walking score) is a walker’s paradise, meaning you don’t even need a car, you can walk to everything,” he said. “It does a really good job of helping organize and plan for your next year and your living arrangements.”
The uCribs platform offers cutting edge features to stay organized, Kish said. And it does a very good job with the user experience.
It’s important for the Rutgers student body to use uCribs to help ease the headache of off-campus housing and to make the process easier for not only students but for their families as well, he said.
“Because at the end of the day, that’s what we’re dealing with — we’re dealing with college students in this day and age,” Kish said. “Rutgers students and students across the country, they’re really into technology, so we’ve really made a platform that’s great to navigate.”
Samantha Karas is a School of Arts and Sciences senior majoring in journalism and media studies and English. She is a correspondent for The Daily Targum. Follow her on Twitter @samanthakaras for more.