BC students struggle to find housing ahead of fall semester


British Columbia is home to some of the most expensive rental markets in the country, but it’s also home to some of Canada’s most prestigious universities. With students expected to return to campus in the coming weeks, the housing crisis is ongoing.

Social media groups for students looking for accommodation filled posts like Seemal Farouq’s, saying she spent a month and a half looking for accommodation in Vancouver without success.

“Every place I find, whether shared or not, is over $2,000 and ‘reasonable’ prices sell out even if I message someone within the first three minutes of posting” , she wrote. “I know I’m not the only one going through this, but at the same time I also feel very isolated and really wonder what other people are planning to do to deal with this.”

Melissa Chirino is president of the BC Federation of Students. She said the problem is widespread across British Columbia, although Vancouver and Victoria are the hardest cities for students to find.

“It’s just hard when you look at the housing market and compare it to a student’s salary, it doesn’t add up. How are students supposed to afford it without outside support? Not all students have this. »

Chirino said it’s common for college students to live with five or more roommates just to make ends meet.

“People work two or three jobs to afford a place. This makes it much harder for students to study full time while having those on the side.

Some students end up postponing their education or dropping out altogether because they cannot afford the high costs associated with school.

Chirino, who is an international student from Curacao, said she would not have come to study in British Columbia if she had known how expensive it was going to be.

“People from the Government of Canada came to explain why students should go and study in Canada. In their presentation, they compared Canada, the United States and Holland. They said Canada was the most affordable choice, which is basically why I chose Canada. I thought it would be more affordable, but I ended up moving to BC and was faced with the reality here.

While this will not solve the housing crisis facing students, BC Rent Bank offers emergency support for students who are struggling to find housing.

Melissa Giles, project manager at BC Rent Bank, said the organization is working to raise awareness of rent bank services so students know they can access support if they need it. .

“Rent banks are there to help people get through an immediate crisis. Students struggling to pay their rent or essential utilities can look to a rent bank as an option they can use to pay those costs and ensure they stay housed.

Students must be 19 years of age or older to qualify for financial aid from a rent bank, they must be able to demonstrate that the financial aid will stabilize their accommodation beyond the immediate crisis and be able to repay the loan.

Apart interest free loansRent Banks provide holistic support to connect students to community resources that ensure they have access to other supports.

“Students may want to start with a phone call because if they don’t have a source of income, they just don’t have a chance to qualify for a loan. Rather than putting them through this process, a quick conversation with a case manager might help them find other services in the community. »

Ultimately, there is no quick fix to BC’s housing crisis, and in the meantime, students will continue to struggle.

“It’s just not affordable,” Chirino said. “People should be able to get housing without having to get more than two jobs to afford it. It doesn’t make sense that anyone can afford accommodation here.

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