Affordable Montreal housing co-op underway for Concordia students

Affordable and well-located student housing is on the way for Concordia University students, according to student housing development group UTILE.

UTILE, CSU plan to build 1st housing unit, with maximum rent of $450

Members of UTILE and CSU stand with the 1.85 million dollar PUSH fund cheque, which was extracted from Concordia students' tuitions as a fee-levy.

Affordable and well-located student housing is on the way for Concordia University students, according to student housing development group UTILE.

With funding from the Concordia Student Union (CSU), UTILE says it plans to build a model for university housing in Montreal.

The CSU has raised $1.85 million so far from a $1 per-credit fee-levy from Concordia students for the Popular University Student Housing (PUSH) fund.

The two organizations plan to build a housing unit with 100 to 150 rooms, with a maximum rent of $450.

"Montreal is the second largest student city in North America," Terry Wilkings, general co-ordinator of the CSU, said. "If you look at the universities and the residence halls they provide, they only provide about 5,000 beds."

"So clearly there's a deficit between the number of beds that the university is willing to provide to students, and the number of students."

He added that this means students are subject to prices of the rental market. 

Some hotels have been converted into student housing to help meet the need for housing, like EVO Montreal — but the cost of one of EVO's converted hotel rooms is $775 per month for double occupancy. For a single person, it comes to $1,200 per month.

Student housing provider Evo started doing business in 2014 by converting hotels into student accommodations. (Raffy Boudjikanian / CBC)

This Concordia student housing will be not-for-profit, affordable, and accessible to the majority of the student population, said UTILE co-ordinator Laurent Levesque.

The team is now looking for a plot of land on which to develop its housing project. The goal is to find a location close to one of Concordia's two campuses — in the Ville-Marie or in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce boroughs, where the university's Loyola campus is located.

The university's students will be prioritised when it comes time to fill up vacancies since the money was raised from fee levies.

The housing unit will be operating as a co-operative. This will ensure that everyone from the Concordia community is included in the project, says Levesque.

"Ultimately, at UTILE, our objective is not to develop a single building and try to handle all of this demand — it's to multiply the offer," Levesque said.

"We have this immediate need for 4,000 rooms, and that's why this PUSH fund was created — so we can have this financial vehicle to be able to actually build more and more buildings like this."