Learning while living in your car or couch surfing becoming more common, says UVic student

Learning while living in your car or couch surfing becoming more common, says UVic student

With a new school year just weeks away, some students in the Capital Region are getting concerned. Many students are from out of town and are struggling to find housing.

“Student housing in Victoria is not good,” said Mateo Moody, who is going into his fourth year of computer science studies at the University of Victoria.

His lease is up in one week. Out of the 50 listings he replied to, 12 got back to him, and only three set up viewings.

“In COVID, the prices just skyrocketed,” Moody said. “It’s like 33 per cent more expensive now.”

READ MORE: Victoria rent for two-bedroom up 35 per cent in one year

A friend of Moody’s family is putting him up for a few months, but he’ll have to move again right before Christmas during exam time.

“I would definitely much prefer that security,” said Moody.

As rentals in the capital region become more expensive and less available, more students are considering living in their cars while they learn.

“I’m prepared for it. It’s got a pretty big back, I can put the seats down and it can fit everything I need really,” said Moody.

He isn’t the only one. Employees at Henderson Recreation Centre in Oak Bay say over the past two years, more students were parking overnight in their parking lot. It had been an issue with them taking up parking spots, which has since been resolved, but now students are parking across the road on Cedar Hill Cross Road instead.

Upon learning that many incoming students are facing unstable housing upon arrival at universities like UVic, Camosun, and Royal Roads, neighbours are horrified.

“You’re going on this grand adventure to college and the first thing that you learn is homeless. There’s something very wrong,” said Judith Halprin.

Roughly 75 per cent of UVic’s students are from outside the Victoria region and need housing. UVic has more than 2,000 beds available for first-year students through a lottery, and has a new residence opening Sept. 4, offering an additional 400 beds.

UVic has another building is under construction and is set to open in 2023 adding another 400 spaces.

But for students like Moody who is graduating this year, his major concern is for the next generation of students.

“Couchsurfing is definitely a possibility if you don’t find a place,” Moody said.

He thinks more and more students may be squeezed out into what’s technically categorized as ‘homeless’ as Victoria’s population grows.

Kori SidawayKori Sidaway

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