Influx of international students creates housing crunch at Cape Breton University
Students returned Tuesday at Cape Breton University and, while many of them figure this place will be home for the next few years, some from out-of-country are just hoping for a place to stay for the next few nights.
“I've seen a lot of students at midnight, sleeping on benches,” said Jaskaran Singh. “Because they have no contacts, they have no friends here.”
The university has about 1,400 international students, roughly 500 more than last year.
It's a recruiting spike these students from India worry is too much, too soon in a city the size of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality.
“I don’t think there’s enough space for them to occupy,” said Amarjot Singh. “There are not many homes available.”
With residences full, the school is putting out a last-minute call to potential landlords.
They say they have found accommodations for about 70 per cent of those in need and they are doing what they can to help students avoid being taken advantage of.
“We're soliciting information, and posting information for the students, so I guess we would catch a lot of it in the ad, if it didn't look like a fair-market value, or something we knew wouldn't be appropriate for our students,” said Doug Connors, CBU’s manager of Residence.
The CBU Students' Union is also helping make arrangements; their president and vice-president are both international students.
“CBU does encourage every single student to find accommodations before they get here,” said Gunny Brar. “In case they don't have an accommodation, they do stay at a hotel or a motel for the first night.”
The university says in most cases, students are paying for these hotel rooms themselves. The school only covers the expenses in emergency circumstances, and on a short-term basis.
For now, Singh says roughly a dozen people are crammed into his apartment -- meant for about eight.
“Some sort of solution is needed to this problem,” he said, hoping that those without a place manage to find a home away from home before the cold weather hits.
“I think we're able to get it done. It's just going to take a little work,” said Connors.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Ryan MacDonald.