Nfld. & Labrador

Dorm demand surges; Memorial scrambles for alternate digs

Hundreds of students heading to Memorial's main campus in St. John's have not been able to find nearby housing.

Memorial University is using the internet to alleviate a housing crunch, but says it could take years before it can afford permanent solutions forstudent accommodation.

Hundreds of students heading to Memorial's main campus in St. John'shave not been able to find nearby housing.

About 2,800 students applied to the university's housing office for accommodation, though Memorial can only handle about half that number.

"I was absolutely shocked," said Danielle Sullivan, 18, who found there were 393 people ahead of her on the dormitory waiting list.

"At the time, I figured it would be better for me to live in residence, [that] it would be a better transition …So it was a little hard at first to accept," said Sullivan, who lives in Corner Brook.

The waiting list has more than tripled since, and university officials have been scrambling for alternatives.

"As you can see, we have quite a high demand and we just don't have the supply. We really need new residences if we're going to meet that demand," said housing director Christine Burke.

Website provides listings for private accommodation

Althoughbuilding new dorms remains a long-term priority, the university hired a small staff to find rooms with local landlords. As well, landlords are invited to advertise rooms on a university-sponsored website.

"There's so many apartments coming in that we haven't even had to search for listings for students," said co-ordinator Allison Stamp, whose colleagues have been posting 40 to 50 offerings per day.

"We just can't keep up with that volume."

Meanwhile, Burke said the university will need to find between $50 million and $60 million to enhance its on-campus accommodation.

"We do need to renovate our residences as well," she said. "They were built in the '70s, after all, and earlier, so we certainly need to have renovations for them."