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Student housing: how it affects San Marcos

Note: multiple attempts were made to contact Haven management, local and corporate, via email, phone and in person. Haven PR director Mark Evans has repeatedly refused comment. Several attempts were made via email and phone to contact the city of San Marcos with no response.

Haven on Thorpe Lane has been issued a stop work order by the city of San Marcos until the complex is able to obtain the correct permits to continue.

The order was posted on one of the windows of the complex on Nov. 22, and states that the electrical, plumbing and fire sprinkler contractors at Haven have “notified the City of San Marcos that they are no longer performing work on this project and have placed their permits on hold.”

No further work is permitted until the correct permits have been obtained. 

Blake Brewen, computer information systems junior, has been living temporarily at The Woods after his lease at Haven on Thorpe Lane was delayed. Brewen transferred to Texas State from the University of Texas at Tyler and said he is disappointed by how students are treated in San Marcos.

“Student housing as an entire industry is blatantly corrupt,” Brewen said. “Students are signing leases for the first time, they’ve never had to deal with housing prior, so they’re getting blatantly ripped off by these housing units. [Apartments] know no one will really come after them if they screw over the students.”

Leasers receive email updates weekly. The most recent update, sent on Nov. 26, said “Construction is working with the City of San Marcos to schedule final inspections and will notify us of the anticipated date of those inspections when received from the city. 

The update also stated “final cleans continue in buildings 1, 2 and 3” and they anticipate a move-in date “no later than the end of December.”

The complex has previously delayed move-in several times and was originally supposed to open their doors in time for the start of the fall semester.

Imogene Daily, sophomore theater major, said she thought Haven was going to be completed by Thanksgiving.

“At this point, I honestly can’t say I’m surprised,” Daily said. “The uncertainty that they’ve kept us under has been unfortunate.”

Management has also been criticized for sending out construction updates that contradict the actual state of the building. Future residents received a construction update Sept. 3 that stated floors two, three, four and five were “clean complete.” Construction workers and trash could be seen on balconies of several floors on Sept. 6. 

Some residents, such as chemistry senior Keegan Lorenz-Ochoa, were able to break their lease. However, according to the “Haven on Thorpe Lane is a Joke!!” Facebook page, Haven is releasing residents on a case by case basis if they do not have someone who is willing to take over the existing lease.

Lorenz-Ochoa has since relocated to an apartment complex after living in an RV park. He said he wished Haven had been honest with him while he was locked into the lease.

“I never thought people would be out to get you but these guys are,” Lorenz-Ochoa said. “Tell me the truth.”

ACT Ally is a program created by Lisa Dvorak and the Office of Off-Campus Living in 2008 that is designed to help educate students on finding safe, affordable and more wholesome housing. ACT Ally achieves this by conducting a crime prevention survey, checking the aesthetics of the complexes, prohibiting complexes from marketing with alcohol and monitoring practices at the Texas State housing faire.

“We don’t want students to transition from on-campus to off-campus to completely fend for themselves,” Dvorak said.

To be considered an ACT Ally, complexes must be completed on time, or have a Temporary Certificate of Occupancy for at least six months.

Dvorak is the community liaison for the ACT Ally program and is also the former San Marcos assistant police chief. She said Haven will not be considered for ACT Allyship and she aims to educate students so they can avoid being stuck in that situation.

“It is real learning process to [ask yourself if] you should sign a lease for something that has not been built yet and doesn’t have a track record of what it is like as a leasing company,” Dvorak said.

The stop work order remains in place, though according to an email from Jerretta Pate, mother of someone who leased at Haven, they have hired a new electrician and are unsure of the completion date.

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