Many graduates left hunting for affordable place to call home





Julie Charchun, president of the U of A’s Graduate Students’ Association, holds a poster encouraging homeowners to rent a room to a student.


“We’ve heard from students who sleep in their offices or their vehicles ... that’s not affordable student housing.”

Graduate students are joining a chorus of concern over a lack of affordable housing in the city, urging residents to open up their homes as rental units.

“We’ve heard from students who sleep in their offices or their vehicles and that’s just not acceptable — that’s not affordable student housing,” said Julie Charchun, president of the Graduate Students’ Association at the University of Alberta. “We need people in the university community and across Edmonton to consider renting and opening up their homes.”

Charchun said graduate students are particularly vulnerable to the city’s tight rental market since they are teachers, researchers and students year-round, making them unable to find work to pay for large rent increases.

Facing a 30 per cent increase in rent, Charchun is also asking residents to sign an online petition and place window signs advocating affordable student housing. While there are nearly 4,000 student spaces available in residences at the University of Alberta, there is an extensive waiting list.

Richard Corriveau, an economist with the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, said low vacancy rates and higher rental prices have been created by a record number of people moving into Alberta and a steady escalation in house prices.

“It’s going to be difficult to see any significant increase in vacancies in the foreseeable future,” he said.

Earlier this month, undergraduate student leaders in Calgary and Edmonton made similar public pleas for assistance in finding accommodation.