A new pilot project has been launched on Memorial University’s St. John’s campus to help students find appropriate housing accommodations off campus.
For the first time ever, two off-campus housing co-ordinators have been hired to assist post-secondary students attending Memorial find a place to live.
A bed crunch on the campus has meant more students have been forced to find an apartment away from the university.
The pilot project, though, will help alleviate some of the demand on Memorial for housing, said Christine Burke, director of Housing, Food and Conference Services.
As of Aug. 1, there were 370 students on the wait list for on-campus accommodations in Paton College.
Ms. Burke said the two off-campus housing co-ordinators will work with these students to sort through the process of locating a place to rent – anything from an apartment or bedsitting room or a house to rent or share.
Off-campus housing refers to accommodations not owned and operated by the university.
Currently, about 2,800 students have applied for on-campus housing at both Paton College, which can house roughly 980 students in 10 dorms, and Burton’s Pond Apartments, a residential complex located at the eastern end of the St. John’s campus, that houses about 512 students.
Ms. Burke said she the university is committed to helping students who don’t secure on-campus accommodations find an appropriate place to live.
“Given that we knew we could not have new residences built by the fall, we felt it would be beneficial if we upgraded our off-campus housing offering to our students,” she said. “This is a pilot project and we needed to start somewhere.”
Allison Stamp and Wayne Walsh were hired July 4. Both are responsible for helping students locate a suitable place to live, perform off-site visits to verify landlord offerings and update office files. Mr. Walsh is also helping develop content and update the Off-Campus Housing website. Listings of accommodations are posted on the site for students to view.
The hiring of two off-campus housing co-ordinators follows an initiative last year by university officials to find small solutions to the bed crunch it currently faces on its St. John’s campus.
Another pilot project was signed with Northern Properties, owners of the Sunridge Place apartment 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 again this year.
Community co-ordinators will also be hired again to live in the building and will be available for advice or counselling.
“People on the waitlist have been contacted by e-mail to indicate where they are on the waitlist,” said Ms. Burke. “They’ve also been offered to apply to Sunridge Place and to visit the off-campus housing website for updates.”
For her part, Dr. Lilly Walker, dean of student affairs and services, said Memorial staff members are doing what they can to help students find appropriate accommodations. She said as the university attracts more students, off-campus housing will play a vital role in ensuring students have suitable places to live.
“As increasing numbers of international and Canadian students join our Memorial community we want to ensure that they are offered adequate off-campus housing,” Dr. Walker said. “Because we do not have enough residence spaces available on campuses, these positions are especially important for us in reaching out to serve these students so that they choose to come to Memorial. We want to do all we can to assist students in their search for housing that fits their needs.”