The Alliance of British Columbia Students (ABCS) released their White Paper on Student Housing, calling on the Province to cut the red tape that prevents universities from building 20,000 new units of on-campus student housing. The report, which details the process for universities to build on-campus housing, demonstrates that the student housing would be able to alleviate part of the housing crisis, building much needed rental housing, while also improving the quality of British Columbia’s universities.
The Alliance of British Columbia Students is a non-partisan society of 5 student associations representing over 60,000 students from across the province that exists to lobby on issues that affect post-secondary students in British Columbia.
“We need government to stand up and be a leader,” said Alex McGowan, Chair of the ABCS, noting “we have a housing crisis that is hurting people, and we’ve seen the Province close the door to new student housing for ten years.”
Currently, the provincial government does not allow universities to take on debt to build housing, even though that debt is financed by the housing fees. The ABCS wants to see students housed on campus, Kim Rutlege, the Campaigns Officer for the ABCS said “this is really a simple situation, let universities build housing and get students out of the rental market. On campus housing improves universities, helps students and opens up the rental market.”
Provincial rules barring student housing have resulted in no new student housing outside of UBC over the past ten years. In that time, the number of international students have doubled and full time students have increased by over 20,000. This results in students increasingly taking up space in the rental housing of their regions.
Metro Vancouver produces 3,000 units of rental housing per year. If the provincial government were to cut the red tape and let universities build housing, the regions universities would build out over 13,000 units of housing; that represents over four years of current rental production.
“We have a housing crisis, and student housing is a part of the solution, it removes 20,000 students from the rental market, opening up those spaces for people that need it.” McGowan called upon the Province to take action to help solve the housing crisis, “government needs to cut the red tape and let universities house 20,000 students.”
The White Paper is the first step in an ABCS led push for more student housing. Throughout September, the ABCS intends to meet with government, and work to raise awareness of the red tape and regulations preventing on campus housing.