UBC looks at affordable housing for faculty, staff

The University of British Columbia campus. Photo by Roddy Keetch


The University of British Columbia has launched an affordable on-campus housing campaign to attract and retain faculty and staff who are frightened away by Vancouver’s high real estate.


The UBC Housing Action Plan, led by Nassif Ghoussoub, chair of the University’s Community Planning Task Group, outlines several on-campus housing options for faculty and staff who find it too pricey to live in Vancouver.


“We are putting offers to faculty members and they look at the real estate on campus, around campus, even one hour away from campus, and realize that they cannot afford it, and many of them are declining our offers,” says Ghoussoub, adding current UBC professors are leaving after two or three years to live in cheaper cities.


Proposed options for faculty and staff include non-market and non-profit rentals, while ownership options for faculty include joint ownership with the university and capped appreciation programs that allow them to buy 33 per cent under market price.


Some of the poorest on campus residents are students, however. UBC is currently working on building more student housing, but despite operating on what he calls a “break even basis”, Alma Mater Society president Matt Parson says student housing isn’t affordable for everyone.


“There are students that are not able to live on campus, and if cost is a barrier to entry to students, then I believe it’s unaffordable,” he says, adding with a wait list of close to 2,000 students wanting to live on campus, he doesn’t see prices going down.


The UBC Housing Action Plan will go before the university’s Board of Governors for approval this summer.


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