| 03.21.2018

Something not quite like the others – Steel House offers alternative residence option


For Tierney Heath, a University of Idaho sophomore, Steel House offered exactly the type of community she was looking for.

“This is the one place, the best place on campus for me,” Heath said. “Since I”ve moved in I”ve become more open,” Heath said.

The Steel House is a women”s cooperative that houses a diverse range of girls and meets UI”s freshmen residence requirements. From art to pre-med majors and everything in between, everyone is welcome.

Residents say the house fosters a sense of community. During one of their lively dinners, residents discussed their favorite parts of living in the Steel House.

Some of the fondest sentiments were expressed toward the excellent people, laidback attitude and leadership opportunities available.

“There”s lots of leadership positions you can run for,” Heath said. “There”s enough people to stay socialized, but not an overwhelming amount.”

Del Hungerford, the house administrator, said on the surface level, a women”s cooperative is a residence in which the girls pitch in on cooking, cleaning and other chores in order to lower residence costs.

“In reality it”s a place to learn life skills that the girls will carry over into running their own households,” Hungerford said.

Hungerford said the house can hold up to 32 people in either single or double rooms.

She said Steel House is not like a sorority.

“In a sorority, you have to pledge, pay your dues every year and follow a national organization,” she said. “The Steel House is still run the same way it was when I was in college. You sign a contract, you agree to do chores, and if there”s space, you get to move in.”

Steel House is one of a handful of cooperatives in the U.S. that is on a campus and independently run, Hungerford said. The average cost of living in Steel House is $3,000 per semester including food, she said.

Hungerford said she lived in Steel House for three years while in college.

“I liked the freedom, I liked being able to do chores for lower fees because I am not afraid of a four letter word called “work,”” she said.

The house has scholarships to assist with living costs. There is a one-year residency requirement to be eligible, but after that options are available to receive compensation for cooking, running the janitorial staff, recruiting and website upkeep.

One of the biggest perks, Hungerford said, is the sense of family you get from living in the house.

“It”s really like a large family,” she said. “They come down into the main room and watch movies and play games.”

Carly Scott  can be reached at  arg-news@uidaho.edu  or on Twitter @Idaho_Scotty

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