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On-Campus Emotional Support Requests Rise

On-Campus Emotional Support Requests

After 2013 ruling by HUD, colleges are experiencing more requests for emotional support animals.

In 2013, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development began requiring schools to accommodate requests for emotional support animals [ESA’s] in college dorms.

“Since then, universities have seen an influx of student requests for ESAs as colleges and universities try to improve resources for students who struggle with anxiety and depression,” writes MarketWatch’s Elisabeth Buchwald.

“These colleges want to reduce stress, loneliness, depression, anxiety and other emotional barriers that may prevent students from having a more enjoyable and academically productive college experience.”

To track the rise of ESA’s on campus, Buchwald journeyed to Washington State University. She found that post-traumatic stress disorder, phobias and personality disorders were the primary reasons for having an ESA.

In 2011, Meredyth Goodwin, Director of the Access Center at Washington State University, only received three ESA requests. Now, she estimates that there are 200 ESAs living with students at Washington State.

“We have received up to 75 requests per year,” Goodwin told Buchwald.

In off-campus housing, student operators have seen similar trends during the past couple of years.

“In particular, some tenants at our non-pet-friendly properties were using ESAs simply to have their pet at the property with them,” says Andrew Belter, Operations Specialist for The Preiss Company. “As a result, we've gone pet-friendly across our entire portfolio, except for core urban deals where there are not sufficient outdoor spaces around the community. We’ve also implemented the application forms recommended in the NAA Toolkit.”

At Cardinal Group, President Alex O’Brien has also seen an uptick in the requests for ESAs at his communities.

“It seems to be a somewhat polarizing issue with many people weighing in their opinion on the approval and legitimacy of emotional support animals,” O’Brien says. “Like most things in multifamily and student housing management, we train our teams to focus on the legally defined process for making accommodations for emotional support animals.   If a resident meets the requirements, we approve the animal.”