Forced to move into residence due to soaring monthly prices

Calgary is facing a vacancy shortage, which has intensified now that post-secondary institutions are back in session — leaving a number of students grappling to find housing for the duration of the school year.

According to the Housing Market Outlook report for Calgary, the rental vacancy rate was 1.3 per cent in October 2012. It has now been estimated to be even lower.

Before devastating flooding touched southern Alberta in June, the city of Calgary was reported as having a housing vacancy rate of less than three per cent. Following the floods, this number has fallen to nearly zero per cent.

Produced by Olivia Grecu

Mount Royal University student Jayna Hermann and her roommates were having no success finding rental housing and saw continuing to live in residence as their only viable solution.

“The deadlines were coming up for residence in order to guarantee a spot,” she says. “It was like, we have to do this or we might not have a place to live.”

Mount Royal received a number of requests for space in residence after the official deadline. Hermann, who also works at residence services, says there are only a handful of empty rooms left.

“I would ballpark between eight and 12,” says Hermann.Jayna Hermann, a student at Mount Royal University, shares her townhouse residence with three roommates.

Photo by Olivia Grecu

Hermann, who says she first started looking for accommodations back in April, was unable to find apartments where the lease started in August or September.

“(Landlords) were still looking to fill tenants for the summer,” she says. “Anywhere I contacted only wanted to fill up for May, June, and July.”

At the end of June when the flooding hit, Hermann says she realized that suddenly, she would also be competing for rental accommodations with families whose homes had been destroyed.

“Obviously the people renting out are probably not going to favour us,” she says. “(We’re) university students who don’t have a solid income.”

Hermann also notes that most of the apartments she was looking at before the flood hiked their monthly rent by about $300 post flood.

Trevor Harding, a University of Calgary student, faced similar challenges in his search for rental housing for the upcoming school year.

Harding, who was seeking accommodations for September, was unable to find a rental property he could move into until next semester, beginning in January 2014. In the meantime, he is staying with his parents and faces a long daily commute because of it.

“Although it’s nice staying for free, my commute is over an hour,” Harding says.

An estimated 900 homes that were damaged in Calgary were deemed unsafe for families to return to. This left many people displaced and struggling to find a permanent place to live. Many are still without permanent homes and are forced to rent or temporarily stay with loved ones.

ogrecu@cjournal.ca