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While trying to take the UVic housing survey, I was kicked out on question three for being a “homeowner.” Instead of moving on to the next question, I was informed that I was no longer eligible for the survey.
I selected the option because it was the closest of the four to my actual situation; I live in a camper van. Technically, I own my home, but I am also unhoused. It’s an unconventional situation. With the three other options entailing rent of some kind, none were accurate to me.
For the record, I like my van. I don’t think of myself as homeless. But I’m not the only one doing it, and not everybody is as cozy. Victoria is one of the most expensive rental markets in Canada with a major housing crisis, and, according to a survey by the UVSS, 24 per cent of students feel their housing is unsafe. With this dire situation, UVic needs to be asking its most vulnerably-housed students what their needs are, rather than making a survey they can’t even answer.
Housing was responsive to feedback after I reached out, and even made a change to the live survey (to the wrong question, but the effort is nonetheless appreciated), so I give them props for that — but the rest of the survey is still inexcusable with UVic proposing housing options for $1 900 per month. The maximum StudentAid BC funding is $320 per week. Loans won’t cover accommodation, let alone tuition. While there are $900 per month housing options listed in the survey too, a meal plan again pushes monthly costs over the loan limit. Students are needing to spend more and more time working instead of focussing on their learning, and profs wonder why we’re disengaged. We’re tired, y’all.
UVic needs to do more to address the housing crisis and support students. Acknowledging its homeless ones would be a good start.
This Letter was submitted by Braedon Lowey.