EDITOR’S NOTE: Heather Smith interviewed Costanzo, and this article was written in part by Heather Smith and Alex Goolsby.
Joe Costanzo, a Newport Beach, Calif. native, and recent graduate of the University, is a businessman. During his tenure at UA he designed and built yourstudenthousing.com, a website for college students seeking info on where to call home during the 4 to 8 greatest years of their life. He came to UA for football and Greek life.
“I decided this is what a college campus should be,” he says after visiting UA for the first time.
A brother in his fraternity who began a charity business inspired Costanzo. He says, “I thought if he’s doing something, I should be doing something.”
Website building became his hobby, and the idea came from his own experiences trying to find an apartment in Tuscaloosa. He couldn’t find a decent website that listed potential student housing. He had to search through fifteen different websites, some of which had missing information about the apartment or no contact info for the management of the properties.
For parents and students who know nothing about the college or city, they have to think about the proximity of the housing to campus, the safety of the neighborhood, how loud their neighbors are going to be. “It’s hard for them to judge. We wanted to make it as easy as possible,” Costanzo says.
“It’s a one stop shop,” says, senior Arthur Sabga. He is Joe’s fraternity brother and business partner. Arthur, an accounting major and computer sciences minor, joined the project about two years ago. His job is to take care of business relations and recruit landlords to increase the number of properties available on the website.
Costanzo worked on the idea for a couple of years before it was launched on the internet. It originally showed a map of student housing locations around the city and comments about the pros and cons of the various options. “It’s grown into a lot more than that,” he says. Now the website offers roommate profiles, local moving companies, a blog and an online marketplace to sell anything from furniture to football tickets. The website also offers an easy sign-in that syncs to the user’s Facebook. Instead of wasting time and filling out forms the old-fashioned way, information is downloaded from your social media and integrated into the YourStudentHousing profile.
The site also has a charitable side. In the past, there was an option to donate to Scholarships of America. Your money goes to helping kids that cannot afford student housing across the country.