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'Some end up living in cars': More affordable student housing needed in Victoria, advocates say

It was quiet Wednesday on the Camosun College Lansdowne campus but come next Tuesday, classes are back in session.

“Today we are welcoming 450 new students on campus and I’m not sure all of them have found housing,” said Jagjeet Singh, external executive of the Camosun College Student Society.

He says every day he hears of another student struggling to find a place to live in the Capital Region.

“Some of them end up living in cars, some of them just get kicked out because they are unable to pay their rent,” said Singh.

Some resort to couch surfing, others decide to leave the region altogether.

The student society says an important change is needed. “It would be getting campus housing that we are lacking right now,” said Singh.

“It’s not a matter of if but when,” said Geoff Wilmshurst, vice-president of partnerships at Camosun College.

Wilmshurst says the school and the province are far along in the process of bringing in student housing, first to the Lansdowne campus, followed by a second phase of housing at the Interurban campus in the coming years.

“We’re very hopeful that we will have a resolution to this and hopefully an announcement in the coming 12 months,” said Wilmshurst.

“We’ve spoken with students that are sharing the same story that they can’t find a place to rent,” said federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh on Wednesday.

Singh was at the University of Victoria where he met with students also struggling to find housing.

“You can’t afford anything here,” said one University of Victoria student.

“The availability of places in Victoria, it’s just impossible,” said another.

“That is why we’re proposing some real solutions,” said the NDP leader.

The solution he is proposing is a federal cost-sharing program – splitting the cost of student housing three ways, between the post-secondary institution, the province and the federal government.

“To build homes that are actually fitting the needs of students, that are actually affordable so that they can focus on their studies,” said Singh.

Back on campus at Camosun College, the student society executive expects to hear from more students asking for help finding a place to call home in the coming days.

“I also have my hands tied and resources are really limited,” said Jagjeet Singh. Top Stories

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