University students hit hard by housing crunch
A new report by RBC confirms what many people in the city already knew, housing is becoming less affordable for people in Regina.
High demand without enough housing to keep up means many are left scrambling for a place to live when they get to the city. A lack of affordable housing is particularly bad news for students moving to Regina for university.
With the fall semester of university starting in less than a week, thousands of students are returning to the city.
Jamie Mason is in her fourth year at the University of Regina, she was lucky enough to find a place to live, but says it wasn't easy.
For two years she lived in the College West residence building at the U of R. She paid about $500 a month for what she describes as a run-down apartment with five strangers.
When she decided to finally move out, she was a little surprised.
"When I was coming out of residence there really wasn't anything available," Mason explained.
As it turns out, living with several room-mates at College West was good training for the student. Ever since she moved to Regina she has lived with several people. For a while, she was living in a two bedroom apartment with three other people.
"In order to live in Regina you basically have to have a lot of people with you in the same apartment in order to bring the rent down," Mason said.
University of Regina president Vianne Timmons understands the need for housing is high for students.
"The other day I was walking on the street and a young student stopped me and asked if I knew of a place for her to rent, you know I mean I hear about it all the time," Timmons commented.
Timmons says she was pleased last March when the province gave 1 million dollars for the planning portion of a new 604 bed residence at the U of R but she doesn't think that will be enough.
Both Mason and Timmons agree that more affordable housing for students is needed.
Tim Gross with the Saskatchewan government says initatives like a corporate tax rebate on rental units introduced in the last budget will help but it needs time.
"As builders develop their projects and develop plans, we'll see more construction occuring," Gross said.
Construction of housing and condos is currently outpacing the construction of rental units.
Saskatchewan Party MLA for Regina Walsh Acres, Warren Steinly thinks any new housing is a good sign.
"Obviously when you create housing anywhere in Regina, there's a trickle-down effect where more people can go into these housing (developments) and that will open up more spaces available for other people," Steinly commented.
The city's vacancy rate has been stuck below or at one per cent for several years.
Timmons says the government and university have a role to play in making life more affordable for students: especially in Regina where the vacancy rate has been stuck below one per cent for so long.
Edited by CJME's Adriana Christianson