MACOMB, Il (WGEM) — Enrollment drops at Western Illinois University are causing Macomb renters to make adjustments as properties sit empty.
As you drive around Western Illinois University’s campus, you’ll see many properties for rent. Rental companies said they have plenty of homes and apartments for rent, but fewer students to put in them.
Employees at Macomb Rentals said as enrollment drops, more rentals around campus sit empty.
Brandon Nelson with Macomb Rentals said students made up 90 percent of their rental units nine years ago, now that’s down to 60 percent and that’s forcing them to make adjustments.
“It’s definitely an evolving demographic,” said Nelson. “A lot of vacancies, a lot of rent concessions. We’re still able to offer our incentives right now, we’re still able to offer a lot of the things we’ve done, but our staffing has changed. We just can’t afford to hire as many people.”
Nelson said in an effort to fill vacancies, he has to lower the rent and is trying to market to families. He’s also cut staff to balance the budget.
Macomb Mayor Mike Inman says he’s aware of the problem and is working with rental companies to address it.
“We made outreach to them, like we would to anybody who was experiencing difficulties in Macomb, seeing what, if anything, we might be able to do within our legal abilities to make that less of a negative impact,” said Inman.
Inman says there’s talk of decreasing property taxes and late registration fees, along with continuing efforts to recruit students.
Nelson says significant change is needed.
“It’s going to take accountability from leadership, accountability from the community to get students to want to come to Western. Something has to change,” Nelson said.
Inman says city council will meet Monday night to further discuss reducing late registration fees for rental companies. He says he will continue to meet with companies, along with university officials in hopes of helping rental companies.