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Off-Campus Living: Tips and Follow-Ups

Over the weekend in the Spruce Hill neighborhood west of campus, members of the Undergraduate Assembly's West Philadelphia Committee began distributing to student residents a new flyer called Tips for Living Off Campus. The concise tip sheet covers some topics that have been brought up in the past by students or local homeowners or both: dealings with landlords; parties; trash (a useful map shows when trash is picked up for each section of Spruce Hill), and suggestions for getting to know the neighbors.

It is a joint publication of two Penn offices (Off-Campus Living, and Community and City Relations), the UA West Philadelphia Committee, and the Spruce Hill Community Association.

Mihaela Farcas, who runs Off-Campus Living, said there is "much, much more " information and advice available in her office and via its website (see below) and "anyone at the University who needs to follow up on these tips can to turn to Off-Campus Living."

Although the flyer is geared to students moving into local housing, the program as a whole is a two-way one. One of the Tips that is being systematically followed up is on knowing the neighbors, according to Sidney Holmes of Community Relations.

"The Office of Community Relations is sponsoring Getting to Know You receptions where we will reimburse the cost of pizza and soda when Spruce Hill residents host an informal reception to meet the students on their blocks," Mr. Holmes said. For information on holding such an event, call 898-3656/4830.

The Off-Campus Housing Office is also accessible via its home page, at

Off Campus Living: Last year the OCL page had over 12,000 hits, intentionally bringing down the number of traditional contacts (walk-ins, phone, fax or mail). But the Office still had over 6003 traditional contacts-4668 of them walk-ins, including 501 faculty and staff at the University, HUP and CHOP:

 Faculty 169 4%
Staff 240 5
HUP 50 1
CHOP 42 1
Subtotal 501 11

The remainder were primarily students, with undergraduates predominating, but inquiries also came in from:
 Undergraduates 2009 43%
Graduate Students 772 17
Alumni 113 2
Drexel 61 1
PCPS 48 1
Temple 81 2
Other Universities 205 4
Community 408 9
Did Not Indicate 470 10

Most of the 6003 contacts dealt with information on housing, but OCL also responds to questions about life off campus and to incidents and problems. Directly or by referral, OCL dealt with 752 incidents last year. Roughly half had to do with leases and deposits, and the rest with problems in repairs, utilities, crime and safety, roommate or other behavior, and neighborhood issues such as trash, zoning or noise.

The "much, much more" Ms. Farcas offered includes a collection of Informational Factsheets, available in the office and on line:

  • Summary of Services: The Office of Off-Campus Living
  • The Search for Housing
  • Landlord List (updated twice a year)
  • Apartment Rental Costs (updated twice a year)
  • Student Demographic Data (updated twice a year
  • Becoming a Tenant: Tenant's Rights, Leases, Security Deposits
  • Checklist for the Smart Tenant
  • Move-in/Move-out Check List
  • Financial Planning
  • Facts about Subletting
  • Temporary Housing
  • Hotels
  • Safety Audits
  • Fire Safety Tips
  • Tenant's Insurance
  • Information on Utilities
  • Neighborhood News
  • Self-Storage
  • Furniture Movers, Furniture Sales
  • Day Care Centers
  • Being a Good Neighbor: Trash Disposal Tips
  • Being a Good Neighbor: Noise
  • Being a Good Neighbor: Tips for Safe Parties

Return to:Almanac, University of Pennsylvania, February 3, 1998, Volume 44, Number 20