No vacancy for Canada’s students

Forget heavy courseloads and unrequited crushes, Canadian post-secondary students have a bigger problem as they head back to school this year: Finding somewhere to live.

What happened: To address a nationwide student housing shortage, Canada’s 24 largest markets for student living are adding ~21,000 new residence spaces by 2025, per a new Cushman and Wakefield report, which would boost their collective capacity by 15%.

Why it matters: It’s the same story for many people looking to secure a rental in one of Canada’s major cities: Priced out, or scrambling. But the situation is especially bad for students who need to show up for their in-person classes or risk failing their courses. 

Why it’s happening: As students kiss Zoom University goodbye and return to campuses, residences are being packed tighter than a tin of sardines. Some institutions, including University of Calgary and UPEI, have literally no room left in their dorms this year.  

Yes, but: More campus housing will only do so much, as it mainly accommodates first-year students. The bigger issue is that affordable housing off-campus has largely disappeared, as average nationwide rents shot up by 10.4% this year

  • The Canadian Federation of Students has called the situation a national crisis as students are disproportionately reliant on cheap housing in urban areas.

Big picture: Competition has grown stiffer as international enrolments boom and graduates opt to stay in their student houses. It’s led to some dire situations: In Toronto, where rents have gone up 20%, one shelter claims that roughly a third of its residents are students