A new initiative by the provincial government to help address the housing supply shortage in BC, particularly in Metro Vancouver, focuses on building new student housing beds.
BC Minister of Finance Carole James announced today $450 million has been set aside to help public post-secondary institutions construct at least 5,000 new beds of student housing.
This fund will allow post-secondary institutions to borrow money, with the first $259 million to be made available over the next three years. A portion of the fund will also be allocated to institutions as grants.
The provincial government estimates 3,000 additional student beds will be built through grants, self-financing by institutions, and other partnerships, creating a total of about 8,000 new student beds.
By funding the construction of new student housing, the initiative will free up rental housing in tight markets, provide students with affordable rental housing at their place of study, and reduce the load on transportation infrastructure.
— Dario Garousian (@DarioGarousian) August 30, 2016
“Post-secondary institutions, universities, and colleges have not been able to build student housing in this province in the way that they can in most other provinces and in a way that they should be able to,” Alex McGowan, former chair of the Alliance of BC Students, told Daily Hive in a previous interview. “And that has caused a lack of student housing, which means the students are living elsewhere.”
“What we’ve found is that there are so many post-secondary students that if we were to house just a small percentage of them on campus we’d actually significantly easing the burden they’d place on the housing market.”
A 2016 study by the Alliance found that if post-secondary institutions in Metro Vancouver built enough housing for students that request on-campus accommodations, such a collective initiative could free up as much as 13,000 units for the general rental housing market.
Student housing is part of the BC NDP’s new 30-point plan to tackle the housing affordability crisis.