UBC Okanagan is turning to its neighbours and asking for help.
The current housing crisis in the Okanagan has left many university students unable to find a place to live while attending school, says Dale Mullings, Associate Vice-President of Students.
Now UBCO is encouraging residents of Kelowna, Lake Country and surrounding communities to consider leasing their spare rooms or their summer rental properties to students.
“The housing crunch is an issue across Canada, and not just in university towns,” says Mullings. “While on-campus housing is certainly part of the solution, many students look forward to finding accommodation off-campus and living in the residential areas.”
With the Okanagan being a tourist destination, there are many properties that are part of a short-term rental pool, such as Airbnb or VRBO, and are rented out during the summer months. Owners and managers of these properties are being encouraged to consider renting them to students during the school year from September to April.
UBCO’s goal is to have beds available for 25 per cent of its students—a high benchmark compared to other Canadian universities, says Mullings.
Currently there are 10 residence buildings and 2,120 beds available, enough for about 18 per cent of all students to secure housing.
“UBCO has always been committed to helping students find accommodation,” he adds. “Last fall we opened two brand new residence buildings, providing another 440 beds on campus. But our student population continues to grow—as does demand for the programs we offer at UBCO.”
As part of its commitment to helping students find homes, UBCO now has an off-campus housing ambassador. Last summer, the ambassador dealt with more than 400 inquiries from students and hosted several online events to help students find roommates and also navigate Kelowna’s rental housing market.
In the next few weeks, more than 2,100 residence offers will be extended to students attending classes this fall. All Indigenous and first-year students are guaranteed a bed in residence. If a student is unable to secure on-campus housing, Mullings notes, they typically begin searching for alternative accommodations in the summer months.
And that’s where the summer rental property owners come in. He is hoping people who own these properties would consider making these spaces available to students.
People interested in sharing rental or roommate listings with students can post them on UBCO’s Places4Students page. Places4Students is an online tool that showcases available accommodations for students. Landlords and property managers can advertise their rental vacancies at no charge directly to students on the platform.
The website also features rental housing-related information, tips and resources for both students and landlords. For more information, visit places4students.com/landlord.