Homeless, irked students search for compensation

By Mark Gates

Everything was going well for Julie Olson, a graduate student in Speech Pathology, until Aug. 11

That’s the day it came – the letter that confirmed her worst fears.

Rubek and Co., the construction company building Stadium View II on Lincoln Highway, the aparment complex Olson was to move into, wrote and said her apartment would not be completed in time for classes to start.

The letter did not come as a surprise. “I never thought the apartment would be done in time,” Olson said. She kept abreast of news on construction of the building through the summer, and already knew little prograss had been made.

Olson, like 240 other people set to move into the 60 Stadium View II apartments, would have to delay moving in indefinitely. She had to leave everything but her clothes, books and a few school supplies at home.

She had heard rumors that her apartment would be completed by Labor Day weekend, but “I’ll believe it when I see it,” she said. The construction company says the entire complex should be finished by early October.

She and the other tenants are being housed by Rubeck and Co. in local hotels and will get $25 for moving fees, 65 cents a day for storage and $3 per day for food deducted from their rent.

Olson’s new home is the Georgetown Motel. Despite the inconvenience and inherent grief of having to call a hotel room home rather than an apartment, she said the Stadium View II management handled the situation well.

Olson’s roommate, Maria Esguerra, also a graduate student in Speech Pathology, said the lack of somewhat permanent housing is a dilemma for her.

“We should be living there by now,” Esguera said. The $3 a day allotment for food, which translates to $1 per meal, is not enough, she said.

“John Monson, a senior broadcasting major, also had problems with the food allowance. “Originally it was $7, then it went to $5 and eventually became $3. That’s not enough,” he said.

Although he considers the four-bedroom apartments (which rent at about $900) a good deal for housing in DeKalb, “I wouldn’t have signed the lease had I known it would take this long to complete,” he said.

“If it would have been a week late it would have been O.K. Now they’re telling us Sept. 8, but who knows? It could be another week or a week after that. They keep pushing it back,” Monson said.

Sam Mehta, a senior finance major, is not satisfied with the compensation offered by Stadium II management and plans to talk to a lawyer. “It’s the only way I can see anything happening,” he said.

Mehta is staying at Motel 6 and said his room is not conducive to studying. “I like to study in a quiet place and this isn’t,” Mehta said.

Although he and his roommates paid rent four months in advance, they haven’t seen anything yet in the way of reimbursement for food or storage. “It’s coming right out of our pockets,” he said.

Mehta said he is trying to meet with other tenants to get refrigerators in their hotel rooms and immediate compensation.

Some complaints go beyond refrigerators or money woes. “This is my fourth and last year at NIU. Your last year is supposed to be your best,” Mehta said. His isn’t shaping up that way