Rental costs leave students scrambling

Students resort to other housing options

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By Nils Rummler

 

As finding affordable accomodation continues to be difficult in Vancouver, students are looking for any option available. 

Sandra Akubge, a social service student from Nigeria, said she had a desperate search for an adequate and affordable room as many apartments were in bad shape and overpriced.

“It took me more than five months to be able to find a place that fits my price range,“ Akubge said.

Rental prices skyrocketed

According to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, in October 2021, the average price for a one-bedroom unit in Vancouver was $1,434. In 2022, the average rent price for a one-bedroom unit in Vancouver is $2,500, according to Zumper.ca.

Meike Huppatz-de-Martínez, an applied social sciences and humanities student from Mexico, said she had bad experiences when viewing apartments. She said she often left viewings feeling horrified.

“There are some pretty dirty places for a lot of money, and the people are weird and sometimes you feel like it’s a prison,” de-Martínez said.

Even trying to rent a room in a shared space is expensive. De-Martínez says she struggles paying $1100 each month for her room in a shared accomodation.

“Even this, I can barely afford it,“ de-Martínez said.

Homestay programs as an alternative

 One alternative to finding rental accommodation is to seek help from a homestay program offered by a college or university. Valerie Peters, the associate director for international programs at Langara Global, says that their homestay program is a great opportunity that provides international students accommodation with a host family. It comes with several advantages. 

A welcoming host family. A comfortable place to stay. The convenience of having food, meals provided. The opportunity to interact with local Vancouverites and learn more about the city, province, country and our lifestyle,Peters said. 

But Peters said that the homestay program has a shortage of available hosts. She said that the COVID-19 pandemic caused many hosts to stop accepting students. 

As families leave the city for affordability reasons, single family homes are replaced with condos or smaller housing units, younger family members choose to stay home longer or return home, many families no longer have extra room for a student,Peters said. 

Students share their struggles

Tashia Kootenayoo, secretary-treasurer of B.C. Federation of Students, said students are coming to her and sharing their extremely difficult situations when renting. Kootenayoo said more students have been living in poor and unsafe conditions.

“They are coming here not even knowing if they have housing. Some of them living out of their car, sleeping in illegal suites and putting themselves in precarious situations. Some of them are choosing to live without housing,” Kootenayoo said.

 

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