Students struggle after B.C. Liberals block student housing construction for 13 years

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DormsBURNABY A New Democrat government would end a B.C. Liberal policy that has stopped post-secondary institutions from building student housing, and made the search for housing increasingly desperate for B.C. students and non-students alike, says B.C. New Democrat leader John Horgan.

“This province is facing a housing crisis. Today, students who can’t find student housing are forced to apartment hunt in incredibly challenging private markets like Metro Vancouver and Victoria, where vacancy rates sit at less than one per cent, and the prices of most units have skyrocketed out of the range of student budgets,” said Horgan.

“Instead of doing everything that they can to help students find homes and get them out of the crowded private rental market, Christy Clark and the B.C. Liberals have done the opposite. They’ve made it nearly impossible for universities and colleges to build the affordable housing that students need.”

Since 2003, the B.C. Liberals have refused to allow universities and colleges to take on mortgages to pay for student housing, which has made most unable to take on new housing projects.

Only one institution in the province, UBC, has been able to build student housing in the last decade – and it too is struggling to keep up with demand, with 6,000 students on the waiting list for housing this year.

Today, Horgan met with media at Simon Fraser University. Alongside New Democrat post-secondary education spokesperson, Kathy Corrigan, and New Democrat housing spokesperson, David Eby, he pledged that a New Democrat government would fix the problem that the B.C. Liberals created.

“The B.C. Liberals hamstrung universities and colleges, and in doing so, they created chaos for students looking for a place to live, and put students in competition with other renters in the private market,” said Horgan. “We need to fix this. A New Democrat government would finally allow post-secondary institutions to finance their own student housing projects where rents cover the costs of borrowing.”

The B.C. Liberals knew that their policy was freezing student housing construction, and could have fixed it at any time, said Corrigan.

“This destructive B.C. Liberal policy created these roadblocks for students, and despite promising again and again to fix it, they’ve done nothing,” said Corrigan. “Students need a place to live, and the Christy Clark government is failing them.”

Eby said that student housing has hit a crisis point.

“The stories we’re hearing are desperate. Students are living in vehicles, in closets, or even in academic buildings. They’re competing with dozens and dozens of other applicants for rental apartments, or paying hundreds of dollars a month to rent a couch to sleep on,” said Eby. “Sometimes they’re even forced to out-bid each other to determine their rents. This doesn’t just hurt students, it hurts everyone looking for rental housing in a tight market near a college or university.”