LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - Too many students means not enough housing at Philander Smith College, but there is a solution; temporary housing. The Little Rock City Board of Directors approved the proposal Tuesday evening.
Enrollment at Philander Smith College is up 30 percent. That’s left about 80 students living at La Quinta Inn. Within the next month, those students will have a new home.
“I call it a blessing," said the college president, Roderick Smothers who welcomes the increase. He said they exceeded their enrollment goal by 100 students.
“We doubled what we anticipated," said Smothers.
To accommodate students, temporary modular homes will be put on a piece of land the college owns. It will be called Panther Village.
“A modern style, pre-fabricated home," said Smothers.
Panther Village will be just a couple blocks down the road from campus along the 1600 block of Chester Street. It will have six housing units each with six bedrooms.
As this plan is only temporary there is a long range, 10 year plan to handle the increase. Additional suites will be built on campus to accommodate up to 150 students. Then there's a plan to build apartments on the property on Chester Street.
“Something in the community we hope will bring economic development and the community can be proud of and take ownership of," said Smothers.
Smothers said they're not sure why the sudden growth, but he believes it’s in part their core mission of being a historically black college.
“That is opening the door of education access to any student who believes they should have that opportunity," said Smothers.
At the beginning of the semester, students were told they would only be staying in the hotel for 45 days, so they plan to have the temporary homes ready for move in within the next month.