SU View: Got (affordable) housing?

By Alastair MacKinnon

I hope that everyone reading this is living in safe, affordable housing now that we are back to school. Unfortunately, not every student has access to this basic necessity. The government needs to recognize and act to address the unique housing needs of students.

There are several groups in our society including seniors, persons with disabilities and low income families, that have been identified as “at risk” for not having safe and affordable accommodations. Students are also at risk.

While students are not exactly part of a minority group, they do face some unique challenges when it comes to finding a suitable place to live. Landlords look less favorably upon the eight month lease term that many students desire (not to mention the negative stereotypes associated with student tenants). When coupled with the limitations of fixed, low incomes, many students are left wanting for a safe and affordable place to live.

Students also need a home relatively close to campus. Many students do not own a car and spend hours every day commuting on public transit. These hours spent traveling is time not spent studying or becoming active and engaged in campus life and community. Students that have time to study and get involved are happier with their university experience, perform better academically and have more fun with less stress. Proximity of housing to campus is a major intervening factor in many students’ choice to get involved. The closer a student lives to campus the easier it is to get engaged and be successful.

Affordable Student Housing Action Week is coming up the week of Sept. 29. On Monday, the minister of affordable housing will be on campus to participate in an open forum on housing issues in Calgary. On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, the SU is hosting a series of open-house discussions. Topics up for discussion include on-campus residences, west and urban campus development, and issues and innovation. At the end of the week all student input, comments, suggestions, concerns and ideas will be compiled into a report delivered to the Board of Governors, the City of Calgary and the Government of Alberta.

The SU is also hosting a TENT CITY! Come and camp-out on campus on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 and raise awareness about the unique housing needs of students. The SU will provide a tent for you and your group if you don’t have one. There will be outdoor activities if the weather is nice or movies and hot chocolate indoors if it’s a little too chilly. To sign up just e-mail me at

If you are currently looking for a place to live check out the Students’ Union housing registry website at:

I’m excited for Housing Action Week, but I’m even more excited to help put a roof over students’ heads. I hope you’ll join me for both!

Alastair can be reached at or 403-220-3910.

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