UDC Residence remains empty despite school's financial struggle

(WJLA) - It’s a beautiful house, recently renovated at a cost of half a million dollars, with well-manicured grounds – but it’s empty.

"I could always play in the yard and hang out and pretend as if I lived there," said neighbor Colleen Duffy.

The home has been vacant for months, and many are surprised to learn that the cash-strapped owner happens to be the University of the District of Columbia.

It’s the same UDC that recently cut more than a dozen majors, and considered eliminating athletics entirely in order to trim costs.

"Thats ridiculous," said Dior Lewis. "Thats money that could be used for something else. They could put that toward something students can benefit from."

The house is intended for the school’s president to live in, but current interim president James Lyons lives downtown and opted not to move, instead collecting a $66,000 annual housing allowance.

The house is located two miles from campus, and school officials say that part of the reason the president doesn't live there. The University says Lyons was initially hired for just one year, so it didn’t make tax sense for him to move.

The school has released a statement saying in part that the residence is used for very important ceremonial functions. But given its financial problems, students think the university should be looking at some options.

"The university needs to think about it, probably consider selling the house so it can more benefit the university," said Carl Potter.

UDC says selling the mansion is something that is under consideration, but it will be a decision left up to the next university president.