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As university classes start, not everyone has a place to live


No matter what subject university students are tackling, it seems everyone is getting a crash course in inflation and housing. Classes start this week but not everyone has a place to live.

“They’re already here and having to start school while trying to find housing. I can’t imagine how hard that is,” said Sydney Keyamo, the Vice President Academic and External with the Dalhousie Student Union.

Others like Abby Jolly, who managed to find an apartment, found one far away from campus.

“It was insane trying to find a place,” said Jolly, a first-year Saint Mary’s University student.

It took Jolly several months to secure a spot and her apartment is still under construction until November.

She’s juggling two jobs to eventually be able to afford half of a one-bedroom apartment with her roommate in Spryfield that costs $1,350.

“To get an apartment that’s far away from the campus -- a one bedroom -- so we’re going to be splitting a room and it’s over our budget. And they pushed it back due to construction,” she said.

Lifting COVID restrictions opened up more dorm rooms because schools were able to use double rooms. But many rooms filled up.

According to Cale Loney, communications manager with Saint Mary’s University, anyone on the university's waitlist up to September 5 has now been offered a place in residence. But Dalhousie’s dorms are full and the University of King’s College has nine returning students on its waitlist.

“I applied in the spring and paid through student loans,” one first-year Saint Mary’s University student said.

Tuition is up three per cent at both Dalhousie University and Saint Mary’s University. And the cost of groceries is even higher.

“We’ve seen that the food bank has had a 30 to 40 per cent increase in usage since the start of the pandemic,” said Keyamo.

Lydia Houck, the executive director of Students Nova Scotia, believes the biggest challenge may be finding a place to live. After that, it’s being about to afford it.

“Right now, housing costs are continuing to rise. We’re seeing housing costs, not only in the [Halifax Regional Municipality] but across the province, continue to climb,” Houck said.

Fred Bergman, senior policy analyst with Atlantic Provinces Economic Council, notes that inflation has forced up costs of energy, taxis and food. But student debt and loans will also get more expensive as interest rates rise.

“Those students that graduate in the next couple of years are going to be paying higher interest rates than a student that graduates, say, a year ago,” Bergman said. Top Stories

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