GBC students share housing concerns with federal ministers at town hall event

This week, three George Brown College students were among a group of young people who had access to federal politicians to share concerns on housing insecurity and soaring rents. 

At a town hall event at Toronto Metropolitan University on March 27, Federal Housing, Infrastructure and Communities Minister Sean Fraser posed questions to college and university students to get their perspectives on housing affordability and supply. Marci Ien, Minister of Women and Gender Equality and Youth (Toronto Centre) and Minister of Justice and Attorney General Arif Virani (Parkdale-High Park) also attended. 

Centre for Business students Rubaina Verma and Veer Jayeshbhai Rathod — both college Welcome Desk ambassadors — and Blockchain Development student Allen Mataire, a Black Student Success Network (BSSN) ambassador, attended the event.  

“While participating in the discussions, I couldn't help but reflect on my biggest concern regarding the housing crisis — the escalating rental prices,” Mataire said. “This issue not only affects individuals like me but many others who are facing significant hardships. Finding a safe and affordable housing option has become increasingly challenging, leading many to compromise their safety in exchange for shelter.” 

The student housing town hall came the same day the federal government provided a preview of a key element of its upcoming budget — a proposed renter’s bill of rights that would include a national standard lease agreement and allow for rental payments to count toward credit history. The proposed bill of rights would also require landlords to share a rental unit’s pricing history. 

George Brown College’s Housing Task Force 

In November 2023, George Brown College unveiled the first phase of our student and employee Student Housing Working Group, which aims to develop a greater understanding of housing challenges and explore solutions with government and private-sector partners. 

The task force’s key findings outlined concerning challenges affecting the well-being of post-secondary students, including the following: 

  • About one in 25 post-secondary school students in Canada experience homelessness on any given day, ranging from couch surfing, sleeping in a vehicle, or using emergency shelters.  
  • In 2019, Covenant House reported 26 per cent of its residents were students, and in 2022 that estimate is closer to a third of residents.  
  • Housing represents serious challenges for students, requiring them to work longer hours and more jobs to afford the high cost of housing.   
  • Nearly half of the students polled reported a long commute (greater than one hour). Many reported doing so to obtain more affordable housing or live with family.   
  • GBC's single student residence, The George offers housing for 500 students and has a waitlist averaging between 400 and 600 students each year.  

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