Arriving Irish J-1 visa students are facing a housing crisis this summer with over 1,700 students expected to pass through New York airports over the coming days as part of the J1 Summer Work and Travel Program.
Although it’s expected that many will journey to traditional summer vacation areas like Long Island, New Jersey, Connecticut, Chicago and Boston, a large number are expected to stay in the New York City area and will need to secure accommodation immediately.
To help the Irish students find accommodation in advance of the J-1 arrivals, organizations like the Aisling Irish Center in the Bronx have been working closely with many Irish community organizations and employers to assist with preparations this year.
“It’s become very hard for arriving Irish students to find accommodation in this neighborhood in Woodlawn in the Bronx,” explains Aisling Center Executive Director Orla Kelleher.
“But Ruth Cunnane of the Aisling Center has been working very hard and has built up some resources that include limited college accommodation in Brooklyn, if people are willing to go there.”
Vacation venues immediately outside New York offer much better prospects, with Ocean City on the Jersey Shore and Long Island offering a host of opportunities, Kelleher explains. “There is both work and accommodation there,” she adds.
The accommodation situation for Irish students in New York this year is no better and no worse than in other years, Kelleher adds, although she realizes the number of students traveling are up this year. It’s simply a question of economics.
“Landlords who have apartments to rent prefer long term tenants,” she explains.
Some landlords have become increasingly leery of renting to Irish students due to nationally publicized tales of drunkenness and property destruction.
“It is a concern and we would always ask students to respect their accommodation and show respect in general. But it’s more the case that landlords really want to rent long term and not have to turn around in a few months in search of new tenants,” says Kelleher.
Meanwhile, Caitriona Howley, employment coordinator for the Emerald Isle Immigration Center in Queens and Woodlawn, has spent weeks preparing for the students’ arrival by networking with employers and reaching out to the community seeking assistance with accommodation options. The latest accommodation information is available at the center.
Says Kelleher, “Notices for apartments are posted in all the local delis and restaurants with landlords hoping to rent directly to tenants. But students can also consider going to a trusted realtor, it’s always worth asking.”
Skilled in social media, this year’s arriving Irish students have been notably self-sufficient Kelleher adds.
“There should be no problem for them finding work this year although the choice of jobs is getting smaller. They can no longer work in construction. They’re limited to the hospitality industry and to seasonal work like doormen. But we’ve had several employers reaching out to us for J-1 students.”
The highest number of students is expected to arrive this coming week and the Emerald Isle anticipates that many will not secured accommodation options in advance.
Anyone who will consider renting a room, apartment or house to the arriving students are asked to call the Emerald Isle at 718-478-5502 in Queens or 718-324-3039 in the Bronx as soon as possible.
“We would always advise arriving students to have fun but keep their wits about them,” warns Kelleher. “We are here for you but we would ask that you beware of scams.”
Meanwhile, the Emerald Isle Immigration Center will hold daily orientation meetings for arriving students at their Queens and Bronx offices, commencing at 2 p.m. daily over the next few weeks.
An Emerald Isle J-1 networking and orientation meeting will also be held at the Irish Consulate on June 9 from 4-6 p.m. at 345 Park Avenue, 17th floor in Manhattan at 4 p.m. Photo ID will be required to enter the building.