KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The University of Tennessee (UT) will be using a hotel on Papermill Drive as an off-campus housing option for students this new school year.
According to UT's website, the university has secured the Holiday Inn Express on Papermill Drive for this upcoming school year "to provide an affordable housing option for transfer students in a high-demand housing market."
The website said the hotel will act as a residence hall on campus with an on-site director and resident assistants (RAs). There will also be a shuttle service available to take students from the hotel to campus and back.
In a statement to 10 News, UT said only students will stay at the hotel while it is under university management. It also said the hotel's main entrances will be locked at all times.
UT staff said, by securing the hotel, they hope to provide some relief to students and families struggling to find housing before the start of the school year. That is an issue Sherry Hopson knows too well.
Hopson and her family traveled to Knoxville in late July to help move her daughter into an apartment since she would soon start school at UT. However, the search was far from easy.
"We had a list of every single apartment complex in Knoxville, and not one single availability for, at least, they were telling us like September, maybe October, November, and that we were not going to get in," she said.
Hopson's daughter got lucky and was able to stumble upon an apartment at the last second, but her mother said the process was beyond stressful.
"It was beyond nerve-wracking to think that I might have had to put her in an AirBnB or in a hotel for a month or something like that until something became available because there is such a shortage," she said.