Housing hassles build up

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By John Beresford

Rent is higher and waiting lists are longer. It’s no wonder many Ryerson students can’t find a home near school.

“That is the busiest year we’ve ever had,” said housing assistant Melanie Carlson of the Neill-Wycik Co-operative residence near Ryerson.

More than 100 students remain on the waiting list for Neil-Wycik, is having a similar problem.

Liza Nassim, manager of Ryerson’s student housing office, said the waiting list for Pitman Hall residence peaked at 220 students this past summer, with 110 still waiting on the list last Friday.

She said the waiting list last year never hit more that 60 people.

Off-campus housing has also been a challenge, Nassim added.

Students must compete against professionals for spots in desirable apartments. Plus, the new Tenant Protection Act, put into effet last summer, has allowed rents to rise.

“It can range from being frustrated to being scary,” Nassim said.

Some students like Jeff Brand have opted to commute from home.

The 23-year old transferred this year to radio and television arts. He pays close to $7,000 in tuition, leaving little left for rent.

Brand said most of the housing he has looked at is as costly as it is dilapidated.

“My standards have completely dropped,” he said.

His commute from Markham takes two hours each way.

Other students are also scouring the downtown core, but they’re coming up short.

Dhivy Sasitharan, 23, said she looked everywhere over the summer and has intensified her search in the past two weeks without any luck.

The second-year business management student said she has checked at least 30 places.

Sasitharan, a transfer student from McMaster University, said she used to rent places from $300 to $400 a month all inclusive.

Today, she is faced with paying double that, plus utilities.

For those students planning to rent again next year, Natasha Lam, 20, suggests a strategy that worked for her.

The photography student paid rent for July and August on her Younge and Bloor apartment, which she and her roommates did not occupy until this month.

“The trick is to rent early,” she said.

Whereas Ryerson has waiting lists, the University of Toronto guarantees first-year students a spot in rez.

This year, with the lack of space, students have been put up in a hotel at Jarvis and Carlton streets.

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