SU View: Thanks for the help!

As President of the University of Calgary’s Students’ Union, and on behalf of the student body, I would like to thank all landlords and homeowners who recently responded to our request to make more accommodations available for students. The response over the last several weeks has been phenomenal and a great support in increasing students’ options when seeking affordable accommodations.

In early August the SU issued a news release requesting landlords or homeowners with spaces to rent to assist in helping students find affordable accommodations by listing their available accommodations on our off-campus housing web site, www.su.ucalgary.ca/ooch. This request stemmed from the fact that the availability of rental accommodations in the Calgary area is at an all time low. According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s annual study, released in Spring 2007, Calgary had a 0.5 per cent vacancy rate on rental units. This lack of availability is a greater challenge for students who must also consider affordability, and many must ensure accommodations are either close to campus or close to public transportation.

Active listings exceeded 550 in mid-August, thanks to the response from our community landlords and homeowners. As of September 7, 2007, we had 398 active listings on our student off-campus housing web site. This number of listings provides greater choice and options for students still seeking an accommodation.

At this time I would also like to address an issue that has appeared in the media concerning the $15 registration fee for landlords to list on our site. The SU is a non-profit organization. Fees collected from our services are directly reinvested in programs and services for students.

I would like to ensure the public that this fee is in no means an effort to make a profit from the Calgary community. This fee covers the administration costs of maintaining this free service for students. We have two administrators who maintain this site, register landlords, and troubleshoot problems. As well, due to the heavy volume of calls in August, the SU hired two additional students to assist with the administration of this site.

Again, the SU thanks all landlords and homeowners in the city who have listed accommodations for students. The community has been instrumental in allowing the Students’ Union to provide a resource for students who are seeking accommodations. With the dramatic increase in listings students have a greater choice in finding accommodations suitable to their geographical and financial needs.

The SU continues to work to address the issue of affordable housing for students through advocacy and on-campus supports. I look forward to keeping the Calgary community informed on the progress of these initiatives in the coming months.

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