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Hard to find housing: Halifax university students already preparing for next school year


Where to live is becoming the number one question for new and returning university students in Halifax.

“We’re dealing with some students in very precarious housing situations,” says Aparna Mohan, the president of the Dalhousie University Student Union.

According to The Halifax Partnership, a public-private economic development organization, enrollment in the city’s six universities grew by 2.4 per cent in 2020-2021 to 31,532 students. Nova Scotia Community College brings in another 4,024.

”We’ve never seen student housing as an issue, influence budget conversation, enrollment conversations and strategy conversations to the extent that they are right now,” Mohan says.

That’s creating a lot of stress.

Jamaican student Arielle Aarons considers herself one of the lucky ones. She has been able to secure her apartment for next year.

“I was really lucky to get a place with my friend and I was really lucky that her parents owned it because they chose not to increase the rent and I know that the housing crisis has been very bad here in Halifax,” she says.

Sam Fitzgerald is in a similar situation. He’s able to live at home while finishing his studies at Saint Mary’s University.

“I get to live rent-free. I’m fortunate enough to live with my parents. I don’t have to pay for residence or an apartment,” Fitzgerald says.

The housing crunch is forcing some senior students to abandon the search for an apartment and return to residence.

But that just creates another problem.

“We only have so many rooms and beds in residence, so there’s just no way that all of the need that exists can be accommodated,” says Mohan.

Before Christmas, the province’s Department of Advanced Education announced $112 million in spending to build residences for 350 students at NSCC campuses in Dartmouth, Pictou and Stellarton.

Another $5 million is going to a mixed-use development that includes student housing at Cape Breton University. Top Stories

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