Escalating Student Housing Crisis Rattles Nova Scotia’s Universities

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As the calendar prepares to turn over to September, a fresh wave of university students anticipates its arrival on campuses throughout the province. However, a growing concern that shadows this imminent influx is the pressing issue of student housing, a critical problem that calls for urgent addressing.

To paint a picture of the severity of the situation, Georgia Saleski, the executive director of Students Nova Scotia, highlighted in a conversation the worrying realities that students face. “There are students living in cars, mature students with children who have no roof over their heads, and students considering shelters as their only means to study and exist,” Saleski explained.

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The gravity of the situation has prompted Anubhav Gupta, the Vice President of advocacy for the Saint Mary’s University Student Union, to call for a united effort between educational institutions and the government. In his view, the establishment of a centralized database for students to access verified rental listings is a necessity. Alongside this, there should also be off-campus housing support made accessible, whether provided by the university or the government itself.

However, the dire circumstances have resulted in students finding accommodation outside the city, compelled to move to nearby rural areas. This relocation, though unplanned, is becoming an unavoidable course of action for many. One such student is Kjele Mizpah Conyers-Steede, a graduate student at Saint Mary’s University, who now resides approximately 45 to 50 minutes outside of Halifax in West Hants. Despite being faced with the inconvenience of a lengthy commute, he stated, “Sadly, I am commuting probably four times a week… The transportation systems within Halifax really don’t connect with the surrounding community.”

Moreover, the repercussions of this escalating student housing crisis are extending far beyond the province’s borders. In fact, international students are now warning their peers in their home countries about the housing problem, suggesting that they may want to explore post-secondary education options elsewhere until the situation in the province improves. As such, this pressing matter is no longer a domestic concern, but one that could potentially affect overall student enrollment, particularly from overseas.