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Students struggle to find housing near universities

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More rooms are available on university campuses this year but some students in Halifax are still struggling to find housing.

University students, including Patrick Cormier, head back to class in about a month. He’s been hunting for an apartment, but so far, the only thing he’s found is his name on a waiting list to live on campus.

“I’ve messaged so many people and it’s really hard to even get an email back,” said Cormier.

Dalhousie University has more than 2,300 beds this year, compared to 1,800 beds last year, but rooms are already full.

Saint Mary’s University residences are also full. Communications Manager Cale Loney notes this typically happens late by July. That’s when the school starts a waitlist.

“That began a little earlier in July this year,” Loney said.

University of King’s College residences are also full.

In an email sent to alumni, professors and students, the University of King’s College’s Dean of Students urgently asked people to consider renting an empty bedroom or in-law suite to a student for the academic year.

According to the email, there are 15 first-year students and 10 upper-year students who cannot find housing.

Aparna Mohan, Dalhousie Student Union’s President, is noticing rental costs are up and so is the frequency of scams.

“Where they’re asked to place security deposits and complete credit checks and have information potentially stolen from them without any actual housing,” Mohan said.

According to data from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Halifax’s vacancy rate is one per cent.

Mohan said she’s hearing more students who are being priced out of the peninsula and the downtown core of Halifax.

“And moving to places like Clayton Park and other suburbs,” she said.

Akuei Diing lives 20 minutes outside of Halifax and commutes to school.

“Right now, especially because a lot of buses aren’t in operation, it’s tough,” Diing said.

Mohan believes Nova Scotia needs to bring about practical changes such as more affordable housing, permanent rent control and help for international students.

“Helping international students to co-sign onto apartment listings since they don’t have credit history,” she said.

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