CoHo rolls out second phase of housing project

22 Bellevue St., one of the houses designated for CoHo living, is pictured here on Feb. 11. (Sara Renkert / The Tufts Daily)

The start of the spring semester brought new developments in the Community Housing (CoHo) project amid controversy over on-campus housing shortages and off-campus renting difficulties.

Upperclassmen recently moved into new housing developments this semester as part of the second phase of the CoHo housing project. The administration made 20 beds available for upperclassmen, opening 19–21 University Ave. and 19 Bellevue Ave., which received a total of 14 residents between the two houses, according to Associate Dean of Student Affairs Christopher Rossi.

Given that Tufts can only house 63 percent of undergraduates, according to a Daily article, and housing is only guaranteed for first-years and sophomores, the expansion of CoHo serves as a continuation in a set of steps Tufts is taking to alleviate pressure on juniors and seniors to find off-campus housing amid rising home prices in the area.

For Rossi, who supervises the Office of Residential Life and Learning, the speed of completion is essential, as the administration hopes to make these spaces accessible to students as soon as possible.

“For CoHo, we are trying to bring the spaces on as soon as possible … rather than tying it to the start of an academic year, which allows some students to move in mid-year,” Rossi said.

He reiterated that opening the second phase is a continuation of the development the administration has in mind for CoHo.

“Once they are all fully occupied starting next fall … the idea is that you have an integrated upperclassman community … [and a] neighborhood effect in that CoHo space … that brings a little vibrancy to that area of campus, increases bed capacity … so more students have the option to live on campus,” Rossi said.

Rossi noted the positive feedback he received from students living in CoHo and touted the many advantages he sees in the project.

“[CoHo] provides many of the benefits of living off campus … [and] living more independently … but you have some of the benefits that Tufts provides for all the resident halls,” Rossi said, adding that the addition of the project into the university’s social scene could lead to the development of programming and themed housing.

The future of CoHo is still in the works, as the university is planning to complete the third and final phase of the project for fall 2019.

“We are still completing the infrastructure pieces,” Rossi said. “You still [have to] do that first before you move on to the larger pieces.”

To Kristen Wederski, the general residence director who oversees CoHo, the rollout has entailed a continuation of her role as a connection between the residents of the houses and the school as she waits for the finalizing of the project.

“Because CoHo is so new, we don’t have student staff in there right now,” Wederski said.“Right now, it is me connecting on levels of move out, move in, if they need anything.”

Directly involved in programming at CoHo, Wederski noted its limited availability at the moment, but emphasized that CoHo continues to be a work in progress and that the rollout is just the next step towards completion.

“Programming is pretty limited right now, but it takes a little bit of time to get the ball rolling,” Wederski said.

Senior Ashley Alphonse moved into CoHo this spring from Latin Way. Her experience resonates with the administration’s view on the project as a promising way for upperclassmen to remain connected to campus while also sampling more independent living.

“Its a nice space and I enjoy it,” Alphonse said. “[CoHo] is not a dorm [but] it’s a clean space because it’s a new space. There is also cleaning services which is [a] nice [offering] by the university.”

Despite the benefits of CoHo living, Alphonse understands how some of the aspects of the project can be seen as problematic.

“I do recognize some of the politics that come into play … Tufts is building out, not up. In a way, we are encroaching in the Somerville [and] Medford areas,” she said. “[We need] to be mindful of that.”

Nevertheless, for Alphonse, CoHo is a place she can call home.

“I do think it’s a positive experience and I feel fortunate to live there,” she said.


COPYRIGHT 2019 THE TUFTS DAILY. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.