Students hunt for housing amid crisis

Photo Contribution by Jeremy Vyn

The housing crisis has taken a toll on students at Wilfrid Laurier University, as rent prices continue to climb and housing options decrease.  

Balancing the cost of rent with tuition, groceries, gas and insurance is “more of survival before luxury,” said Wonu Oluwo, a second-year law and society student.  

She picked up more shifts at her part-time job and is sometimes “really exhausted.” 

Rent has risen along with the cost of utilities.  

“The gas, water, electricity, the insurance for our properties, that’s all gone up,” said Jason Nagy, a landlord in Brantford.  

He didn’t raise rent during the pandemic, but raised it this year “in accordance with provincial guidelines,” said Nagy. 

The Ontario government set the maximum amount for landlords to increase rent at 2.5 per cent.  

Finding an apartment “was difficult,” said Aqsa Shafi, a second-year business technology management student.  

Despite the monthly fee of $800 that she pays for one bedroom, the shared two-person apartment isn’t satisfactory, as “stuff breaks down on its own,” said Shafi.  

“I have a really small room for the amount of money I’m paying for it,” said Shafi. Her landlord is making her pay more rent than the advertised fee. 

The demand for housing gave students little time to decide where to live.  

“We had to rush through a process because there were other groups that were looking at it too,” said Thya Suresh, a second-year digital media and journalism student, about her shared 6-person apartment. 

Many students and graduates are reluctant to give up their current home, “just for the sake of not having to find another place,” said Nagy.  

Nagy said two of his 15 properties changed over in 2023 as opposed to the usual two to five changeover in previous years.  

Oluwo can’t leave her current place because she won’t “find anything for the same price,” she said.  

More than 30 per cent of Oluwo’s income goes toward rent.  

According to The Fostering Learning and Awareness on Student Housing survey, 87 per cent of Ontario students use 30 per cent of their income on rent. 

Rent should’ve increased by 5.3 per cent to align with inflation. Nagy agreed with the government’s decision to cap rent increase at 2.5 per cent.  

“Rent as a whole is out of control right now due to inflation, and I just think it would make it that much more difficult for the students,” said Nagy. 

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