Housing crunch forces Fulbright scholar to live at a motel with wife and kids

Video posted December 10, 2012 in News by Eric Visintainer


In a much globalized world moving for college or to get a new job is commonplace. 

Housing is a key element to making such a transition reality. Finding a place to live is simple, right?

It wasn't that easy for Fulbright scholar and visiting professor Dr. Nripendra Singh, who has traveled more than eight thousand miles with his wife and two kids from New Delhi, India to State College, Pa. He made the journey so he could teach at the School of Hospitality Management and research how Central Pennsylvania businesses process waste.

After fruitless months of searching for housing prior to his arrival, Singh had no choice but to stay at a motel. The hurdle he couldn't clear was that he only needed housing for four months, but landlords wanted him to sign a year-long lease.

"We were not aware of the one-year lease problem, which is the main issue because every time we used to get a house or an apartment, we used to look for two things, one is proximity and the other one is that we needed for four months," Singh said.

On-campus housing was not an option. Penn State on-campus housing director Conal Carr said that even though the university generally has enough housing for graduate students, the halls have been at capacity for the past few years.

Singh now lives at a motel in downtown State College with his family. The room rents for $1,000 per month. He is able to pay thanks to a Fulbright fellowship. The room includes a desk, a bed, a couch with a fold-out bed, a kitchen and maintenance services. His colleagues at the Penn State School of Hospitality Management helped Singh to find the hotel.

Although the hotel room fits the family's budget, it has not been a perfect solution. Singh and his family had to pack up and spend the weekend elsewhere every time the Nittany Lions played a home football game this season. They took advantage of the forced mini-vacations to travel to New York City, Toledo, Ohio, and Niagara Falls.

“It becomes a little expensive and a little disruptive sometimes," Singh said. "When you are working, and researching you know needs a lot of sitting, thinking and not really getting disturb by planning to go out and then moving in again after three days."

After three and a half months of living in a motel on a major street in State College, Singh said he has become used to it.

"Initially I was feeling a bit nervous, and a bit disturbed, but now I don't think about that." But he added that he won't miss the constant sound of traffic.

State College Borough Community Development and Planning Director Carl Hess said more housing developments will eventually reduce the tight market that forced the Singh family to live in a hotel. Several projects are under way, just not in State College. He said most of the recent developments have been outside of State College simply because of the availability of land.

Research for waste solutions

Singh has been visiting local businesses in Central Pennsylvania for his research about how to improve the forms of processing waste. He is currently in the final stage of his project and will present to the School of Hospitality Management at the end of December.