The "Opening Summer 2016" sign on Adams and Hoover, where students were supposed to move into Stuho's brand-new housing complex Element on Aug. 1, ironically still stands. Yet what surrounds the sign are a wooden structure, some parts of it without exterior walls or paint, and a property that very much looks like a construction site, not a place where students could live.
Yet a long-ago promise from Stuho is what's left of an attempt to keep the tenants' hopes up: the developer for the student housing company's complex will be "making every effort to get you into your new home at the Element within the September 15th 2016 to September 30th 2016 time frame," according to an email the company sent to all future tenants on Jul. 14.
That deadline is quickly approaching. But with only 11 days left to meet it, the Element construction site still looks anything but close to being done.
"They told us they want it to be done by Sept. 30, and there's no way. I mean, if you look at the structure, there's not even exterior walls," Sarah Green, a USC student who signed her lease with Stuho back in December, said.
She's not the only future Element tenant in doubt about the housing company's set move-in time frame. "When you drive by… the front part is a wooden structure and doesn't look developed at all," USC student Connor McGlynn said.
The worry about being able to move into their apartments by the end of the month adds to the stress Element tenants have experienced ever since they returned to school back in Aug.
To provide alternative temporary housing for its tenants, as it is set in the lease, Stuho partnered up with the luxury housing complex The Da Vinci Apartments in downtown Los Angeles. The drive from there to USC's campus can take up to 30 minutes during rush hour. Stuho is providing an hourly shuttle service — but that is not enough to make up for the inconvenience, students say.
"The shuttles haven't been so reliable… they've been showing up late, they haven't come sometimes," Brianna Doyle, a USC student and Element tenant, said. "This whole situation makes me feel stressed out when I don't need to be."
Green also said that "they don't give a shuttle at lunch or at dinner time so that their drivers can eat, and it stops picking us up at USC at 10:30 p.m." She has classes and meetings up until 11 p.m. or midnight four times a week.
For her, that means that she gets to Uber home on those nights — at her own expense. "The fact that they couldn't get us some place that was in a reasonable distance from school seems kind of ridiculous," Green said.
Stuho, who declined to comment for this story, offers its Element tenants 20 percent off their rent throughout December 2016. Yet for some students, the cost of living at the Da Vinci, which is four-and-a-half miles away from campus, were too high — both cost and time-wise.
Some chose to rent out a place closer to USC instead. In the event that Element will be done and ready for move-in soon, those students will have to pay both Stuho's and their former leases if they cannot find someone to take over their spot. A risky gamble — especially since it is not clear when exactly the construction site of Element will be in a habitable condition.
Stuho announced to Element tenants that it will send out an update on move-in dates this Monday by 5 p.m.