The unlucky students of Simon Fraser University are emblematic of this issue, with many of them having taken to sleeping inside the campus for lack of affordable—let alone available—rental space, reported The Globe and Mail
Landlords are fully aware that they can raise prices even higher in this environment of scarcity, and this trend has choked off the students from the rental market, professor Cole Lewis observed.
“I am definitely seeing a struggle. And none of us wants to boot them out. But we can’t allow that, for their safety,” Lewis said. “I’ve had to ask them to find other arrangements.”
“We’ve encouraged the student union to talk with students about who has an extra bed or couch, and they can come to us and we can put them in touch. But they are young and proud and want to figure things out,” she added.
One of her students, 23-year-old theatre major and Japan expatriate Nicholas Ree, is homeless—and is forced to sleep within campus, or dingy hostels during off-season.
“Once it gets busy it’s not possible to have my stuff in school, so I’m taking for granted that there aren’t many people at school right now,” Ree said. “I don’t have much stuff. I have a suitcase and a box, because I’m a student from another country.”
“I know there are worse cases. But it makes it feel like Vancouver is not livable, or a kind place for a lot of young people,” he lamented.
21-year-old Cindy Kao, who is currently staying at home with her mother in Langley, said that she is not looking forward to sleeping inside the campus grounds again once school starts next month.
“This is a huge problem, and we haven’t had much of a voice about it,” Kao noted. “Just the whole market has gone too far.”
Kao admitted that she uses her scarf to cover her face when sleeping as her usual spots often have lights on, but she confessed apprehension over the safety of her valuables.
“It’s hard to keep it a secret living at school sometimes. But a lot of people do it. Definitely,” she said.
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More than the exorbitant costs, the punishing 0.6 per cent vacancy rate in Vancouver’s rental market has become the most formidable roadblock for those looking to reside (at least for the short- and medium-term) in the city.