Alliance of BC Students launches campaign for student housing

by MrContentGenerator

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It is September and classes are back in full swing, hopefully all of us have a place to live. In the Greater Vancouver Area, housing vacancy is at an abysmally low rate, meaning students are taking what they can for accommodation. The Alliance of British Columbia Students is lobbying government to change that.

Statistics and stories show students are hurting

The vacancy rate for Vancouver housing is less than one percent.

Trying to find accommodation as a student has reached a crisis point that is forcing people to live on couches, in living rooms, or with bed sheets to divide one bedroom into two. Each year there are sad stories about under-sheltered students trying to scrape by. According to the Globe and Mail, average rent a year ago was about $1,200, which is difficult to pay when studying full-time and working low paying jobs.

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High costs in the world of housing have a severe impact on students because they often seek temporary accommodation during their studies. Some students will opt to go to different schools so they can live with family during their education, meaning that the chaos of the housing market is in part impacting the education outcomes of those enrolled.

Media pickup strong on student society messaging

Alliance of BC Students (ABCS) president Alex McGowan has been featured prominently in the news media this week responding to questions about their plan for housing. The group has launched a Where’s the Housing lobby effort about building new residences and student housing near campuses in the Greater Vancouver Area.

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The ABCS is the only group with doing major media outreach to talk about housing for students in British Columbia. With the housing market featured so prominently in the news in recent months, now is the perfect time to garner attention on the issue from a different perspective.

We should note that the ABCS could have been more creative with the name, given that they used to have a campaign called Where’s the Funding.

ABCS solutions fail to challenge funding issues

The ABCS’s work on student housing is timely for many reasons. Housing issues are a hot button topic and students are suffering a lower quality of life because of low vacancies. However, the solutions offered by the ABCS would put the cost of new housing developments on the shoulders of future students and put universities into debt.

Per the ABCS pretentiously named “white paper”, the group is only calling for the BC government to let universities take on debt to pay for housing. Nothing about this demand challenges the broken funding model for post-secondary education across the province, which means that students of the future would be paying for the housing out of student fees rather than the tax system.

Proponents of the ABCS plan tell The Western Student that the issue of student housing is imminently important, and that students can’t wait for government to fund education so they can have a place to live. The fact of the matter is that none of the student housing described in the plan will be available in the immediate future even if it is adopted, and that increasing tuition fees to pay for the plan would contribute to the financial blocks to people starting school.

[Note: The statistical images in this article are from the Alliance of BC Students White Paper on student housing.]