Solving the student housing crunch

With rents hitting record highs and the school year incoming, start-ups are helping students find rooms where they can live, study, and hang posters of Quentin Tarantino movies. 

Driving the news: A new crop of companies is providing housing for students by pairing them with the growing number of Canadians with spare bedrooms, per The Globe and Mail.  

  • Sparrow, one such platform that launched last year, is on track to broker 400 home-share agreements this year and aims to score 2,000 next year. 
  • SpaceShared, which began operations this year, has partnerships with Georgian College in Barrie and Humber College in Toronto to promote the platform.

Why it’s happening: High enrolments—driven by a record number of international students and schools pushing to make more money—have strained the supply of student housing. 

  • Today, between 4-5% of Canada’s post-secondary students are experiencing some form of homelessness, according to PSSH, a homelessness research group.

Why it matters: The student rental crunch can broadly affect a city’s housing ecosystem, as competition drives up prices for (what’s supposed to be) the lower end of the rental market. 

  • partially attributed July’s blistering rent surge to students signing leases before the school year started.

What’s next: Schools are tackling the problem by building new residences and partnering with rental websites, but some experts believe that better alignment between schools and governments on how many students cities can realistically house is necessary.—QH