Once again, hundreds of students from Durham University have been forced to sleep on the streets to secure housing for the 2023/24 academic year. 

The housing crisis in Durham, deemed to be 'absolutely ludicrous' by Durham's MP Mary Foy, appears to have reached a breaking point, with students having to queue for hours to sign for next year's rentals. 

The queues are the result of letting agents releasing all their properties onto the market at once, known as a "drop" - this is the second time this month that hundreds of students have had to queue all night.

When speaking to students, they have made it clear that they feel "forced" into having to queue up and sign on houses, as the city is oversaturated. 

They explained that they felt as though they had no other alternative, as houses in the city were scarce, and affordable properties were even scarcer, meaning students "had to get in early" to ensure they had somewhere to live for the next academic year.

A second-year student told us: "Demand totally outweighs supply, and in a historic city like Durham there is no capacity to expand, so the situation can't get better unless the university stop admitting so many students."

Read more: Durham University students sleep on streets to secure accommodation

The 93% Club, a student-led society dedicated to improving the experience of state school students at Durham University, has launched a campaign to lobby the university and local government to fix the "broken" housing system. 

In a post on social media, the society explained its motivation: "The housing system here is not conducted with students' best interests in mind, but those of landlords. This madness must end now."

"Our campaign is not just for students, but for the whole Durham area. The university is a pillar of the community, and as such has a responsibility to help when people are in need."

The Northern Echo: Many Durham University Students queued for over 14 hours to try to secure housing. Picture: Phoebe Abruzzese.Many Durham University Students queued for over 14 hours to try to secure housing. Picture: Phoebe Abruzzese. (Image: Phoebe Abruzzese)

With the backing of Mary Foy MP and Durham's student union, they have called for university officials to meet with students face-to-face to discuss housing issues. 

Dan Lonsdale, the Educational Outreach Officer, explained: "The University's response has been lacking. Our most recent communication with them saw the uni deny any influence on the private rental market - it is simply not good enough. 

Mr Lonsdale also makes it clear that students are considering their next steps and says that he has found students to be unafraid of "escalation", in the form of student-led protests. 

Read more: Durham University offers £2 meals to struggling students/staff

He said: "There is serious frustration, but [the 93% Club] would like to avoid it boiling over, hence we have called for a public meeting."

As the 93% Club highlights, this issue does not just affect students - the Durham community at large suffers too. 

The Northern Echo: Stressed students had to sign for houses they had not even been able to view. Picture: Phoebe Abruzzese. Stressed students had to sign for houses they had not even been able to view. Picture: Phoebe Abruzzese. (Image: Matthew Wiecek)

One resident said: "This is just ridiculous. I have been saying for years that [the University] had to stop expanding. It's not the student's fault but they are ruining the city, we're overrun."

On social media, one person told of the negative impact that the student housing crisis was having on residents, saying: "There are so many local people who can't afford to live in their home town because so many houses have been converted to HMOs by greedy landlords." 

When asked for comment on the housing crisis, a spokesperson for Durham University said: "A Durham University spokesperson said: “We work hard to support our students across both academic and non-academic matters, including working with Durham Students’ Union and student leaders as appropriate.”

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