Photo: Jacob Dubé

Ryerson partnering with housing-finder to help students find beds

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By Sylvia Lorico

Looking for accommodations close to Ryerson, but can’t afford to rent an apartment or basement? Housing finder StayBillety is partnering with Ryerson University to offer off-site housing for students.

StayBillety is an organization that helps link people who rent out their space to people looking for housing. Similar to the website Airbnb, people can choose to lodge in a space rented out by hosts for short periods of time. StayBillety allows students to live in a space from a few days to several months. Prices are listed per day and per month.

Barbara Jones, CEO of  StayBillety, said the main premise behind her organization is connecting like-minded people.

“No one wants to screw around with their own tribe,” she said. “There’s a world of people out there that don’t want to stay with strangers and don’t want strangers in their home. But if I’m an alumni or I feel connected to the Ryerson community, there’s something about that layer of community that takes away that stranger danger.”

Students can choose their living accommodations based on hosts who share interests or similarities. For example, students can live with a host who is a Ryerson alumni or a host who shares the same interests as them, such as sports.

Amenities are shown after the listing on the website and users can also see reviews and ratings from other guests.

Another feature is the ability for students to post requests on the website. Students can specify amenities or accommodations, which other users can see. This allows other users to recommend spaces or to specify certain locations based on these requests.

Students can apply for housing directly on the StayBillety website with an account. They are required to enter an affiliate code (RAMS) in order to identify as a Ryerson student.

The demand for on-campus space continues to grow. Presently, Ryerson has 850 beds in three different residence buildings on campus. There are alternative forms of housing available such as the Parkside residence on Church St and Gerrard.

As of January 2017, the university has about 1,000 beds available.* 

According to Ryerson Builds, a new residence is under construction at 186 Jarvis St. When completed, it will be able to house 593 students. Construction is projected to be finished in August 2018 and the residence will open a month after.

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Jones, a Ryerson alumni, said she understands the challenges of finding a living space from when she was a student, and that StayBillety could offer a solution to that challenge.  

“Nothing has changed dramatically today except the prices,” she said. “It would have been a whole lot easier to find a place to live if something like this would have existed back then.”

The announcement could also benefit commuter students.

In the fall of 2015, StudentMoveTO, a collaborative effort between four universities (including Ryerson), studied post-secondary transit usage. They conducted a survey on the modes of transportation to and from campus and the motivating factors behind commuting.

The survey, which over 2,900 Ryerson students participated in, found that 54 per cent of Ryerson students use local transit, while an additional 23 per cent use regional transit to commute to university.

This partnership can allow commuter students to stay in housing spaces for a shorter term, similar to Ryerson’s commuter hostel. The commuter hostel, located in the International Learning and Living Centre, allows commuter students to book short term accommodations on campus during the year.

Unlike the commuter hostel, StayBillety gives students more options in terms of amenities and occupancy.  The commuter hostel limits occupancy to nine nights a month or three nights in a row, while spaces on StayBillety vary on the maximum nights for a student.

“Let’s say there’s an event and you want to make your sofa available to a student who has a two-hour commute so they can stay down and study or go to that concert. You can do that. There’s nothing stopping people from using this in ways we haven’t  considered,” Jones said.

StayBillety will formally announce their partnership with Ryerson on Jan.18.

StoryMap by Justin Chandler

*CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the university received about 70,000 applications for 6,500 first-year housing spaces. In fact, 70,000 applications came in that year for 6,500 university admission (not residence) spots for first-year students. In terms of residence spots, Ryerson has about 1,000 beds available, an update incorrectly attributed that information to a 2014 interview between Sheldon Levy and The Globe and Mail. The Eyeopener regrets this error.

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