Student Housing Working Group

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We want to be part of the solution

As a post-secondary education institution rooted in downtown Toronto, George Brown College (GBC) is uniquely positioned to help address the city’s unprecedented housing crisis.

The lack of housing, particularly affordable housing, affects people across the Greater Toronto Area, including many members of the GBC community. We recognize that without action, this issue will make it increasingly difficult to attract and retain students and employees and support their well-being and academic and professional success. 

Our efforts on the housing front tie directly to work on our Campus Master Plan process.

“We know the housing crisis won’t be solved by George Brown College alone. However, we can contribute to a broader comprehension of the problem and do our part in exploring new opportunities as well as solutions.” - GBC President Dr. Gervan Fearon

Working Group Action Plan

Phase 1 – Early Research 

George Brown College launched an internal Student Housing Working Group in February 2023 to research and define the scope of the student and employee housing crisis. In November 2023, GBC unveiled the results of the first phase of that work, underscoring the significant demand for safe and affordable housing for the college's students and employees. 

Aerial view of Waterfront Campus and surrounding area

Phase 2 - Deep Dive

Working with the college community, consultants and external partners, the Student Housing Working Group will move toward meaningful actions and solutions while evaluating GBC's assets to find solutions to the problems at hand. This includes a deep dive to understand the housing needs of the GBC community.

Aerial image of St James Campus and the surrounding area

Phase 3 - Action and Advocacy

George Brown College will continue active and ongoing engagement with governments and peers in higher education to influence the direction of policy and talk with a variety of potential partners and housing and affordability experts. 

"George Brown College is working to find opportunities to create new housing, alongside the work of other partners in government and the private and non-profit sectors." - Michelle McCollum, Vice President, Facilities and Sustainability, George Brown College.  

Early Research Results

Students in front of The George student residence

Toronto's housing affordability crisis and housing shortage negatively affect student learning and well-being. We surveyed GBC students, and the 770 responses we received indicated that high housing costs result in students working longer hours to pay rent, experiencing longer commute times as they move further out of the city to find cheaper housing options, and heightened concerns, particularly among international students, about housing safety. Read the full Student Housing Work Group Progress and Initial Findings report to learn more.

VIEW the report

Key findings

  • 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 they did so in order to obtain more affordable housing or live with family.  
  • GBC's single student residence, The George (located at 80 Cooperage St.), offers housing for 500 students and has a waitlist averaging between 400 and 600 each year. 
  • The lack of housing affordability is a critical challenge confronting the region’s continued growth and prosperity, with serious implications for employers, according to the Toronto Region Board of Trade.  

The average asking rent for a new lease on a two-bedroom apartment in Toronto in September 2023 was $3,411/month, according to

Next steps

  1. Deep dive and engagement to determine the housing needs of the GBC community
  2. Active and ongoing engagement with government and post-secondary education peers to influence policy direction
  3. Collaborating with and learning from subject matter experts in the areas of housing affordability, funding and development



Students walking in front of the International Centre at St. James Campus.