The rental crunch isn’t just being felt around campus.
“I’ve seen condo units in Yaletown with curtains hanging from the ceiling and four people living inside that are only 500 square feet.”
Toby Chu is the CEO of the CIBT Education group, who provides housing to International students.
He estimates there is currently 150,000 international students here in B.C., 80% of which will be renting in Metro Vancouver, making competition fierce.
“Plus local residents are fighting for those rental apartments, then domestic students on top of international students, so we really have got three groups fighting for the same rentals.”
Based on previous years, Chu estimates those international students will contribute about five billion dollars to the B.C. economy this year.
With 5,000 students on a waiting list for on-campus housing at UBC, the Alliance of B.C. Students released a report today saying no new student housing has been built outside UBC in the last ten years.
With less on-campus housing, Chu says more international students are being scammed as they look for off-campus rentals.
“Some of the bad landlords may advertise something online showing a Shaughnessy house, but by the time a student arrives from overseas, they are living in a basement in Chinatown or on the lower East Side.”
— Dario Garousian (@DarioGarousian) August 30, 2016
Two years ago the federal government announced a plan aimed at doubling the number of international students to 450,000, by 2022.
Chu says that’s concerning because there is no incentive for developers to build more student housing.
“Unfortunately they are running a very successful production line of luxury condo’s and for them to switch off to build affordable housing is not going to be an overnight event.”
Part of his business plan is to buy old hotels and buildings and convert them into units for student housing.
“We did two building’s downtown that we were able to convert and densify into long stay hotel unit’s. We took one luxury hotel and turned 5 bedrooms into 12 using the existing space, but that took over one year and it’s fully occupied.”
While crediting the City of Vancouver for its work granting the permits needed, Chu says there needs to be less red tape in B.C. for these types of developments.
Chu was speaking with Steele and Drex.