New housing option for students
By Jeff Green
Memorial University has found a small solution to the bed crunch it currently faces on its St. John’s campus. A pilot project has been signed with Northern Properties, owners of the Hillview Terrace Complex on Torbay Road, to provide 32 fully-furnished apartments to students currently waiting for accommodations in one of the dormitories on campus. The 700 square foot, two-bedroom apartments will be rented for $1,025 per month based on a nine-month lease. The price includes heat, light and high-speed Internet access.
Dr. Lilly Walker, Dean of Student Affairs and Services, says the new arrangement will help alleviate some of the demand for housing. Currently there are about 500 students on the wait list for on-campus accommodations.
“We don’t have enough beds on campus for our students in our traditional housing. The houses are full and we had to solve that problem,” she says. “Hillview Terrance actually came to us with this idea. It was really serendipitous. We have a need and they want to work with us. This is not costing the university anything.”
The apartment complex was previously used to house military personnel studying at the Marine Institute. It is located along bus routes and is near plenty of shopping and restaurants in the city’s east end.
Although students will be housed in an off-campus residence, community co-ordinators will be hired to live in the building and will be available for advice or counselling.
“That’s the unique thing about this,” says Dr. Walker. “They will be there to help build a sense of community within the building. You could rent an apartment and not know anybody but we are trying to parallel some of the support we have on campus.”
Students on the wait list are currently being contacted about the new arrangement. They can either move into Hillview Terrace or remain on the list for on-campus accommodations. “We can work with a student to find a suitable roommate for them with similar interests,” says Christine Burke, assistant director of Housing, Food and Conference Services at Memorial. “Parents can be assured that there will be a support system in place for students and we will try to make this as enjoyable for them as possible.”
If the project is successful Memorial may work with Northern Properties to place even more students in apartments until additional residences are built on campus.
“Maybe this can be our model for a short-term solution to address the housing crunch,” says Dr. Walker. “We’re pushing to build more residences and that’s in our plans but that’s a long-term strategy.”