UPEI Student Union considers student-senior shared housing

UPEI's student union is in the development stages of offering co-housing as an alternative housing option for students. Co-housing involves students living with seniors in their homes and sometimes doing chores for a reduced rent.

Student union sees co-housing as an option to help alleviate the housing shortage for students

A survey done by the UPEI student union showed a mostly positive response to the idea of co-housing. (CBC)

UPEI's student union is exploring the possibility of housing students in the homes of seniors.

It's called co-housing and it's being used at several Canadian universities as an option when affordable housing is limited. 

Emma Drake, vice-president academic and external at the UPEI student union, said the idea came after seeing successful co-housing programs at schools like McMaster University in Ontario. 

She said the student union issued an informal survey to see if there was interest from students and received 134 responses — mostly positive — from a wide range of students. 

While she had hoped to get more input, she said the range of answers reflected the diversity of the campus community and indicated support for the idea.

Student-senior contract

Drake said she's met with Clifford Lee, the special adviser for the province's housing action plan, for his input on the program. 

She said the student union also plans to contact other community groups who may be interested if the project goes forward. 

Some respondents were saying … some of my friends are living on couches right now, or there's five people living in a three bedroom apartment.- Emma Drake, UPEI  Student Union

Co-housing arrangements can differ depending on the educational institution.

At McMaster University, students get a break on their rent in exchange for light housework or companionship. 

Drake said she views the potential program at UPEI as a contract between a senior and a student where both parties decide on a living arrangement. 

'Affordable rate for students'

"I think it will really just be up to the individuals, but in the hopes that it will be overall an affordable rate for students," she said. 

The student union will help administer applications, she said, and a vetting process will be involved. 

Emma Drake, vice-president academic and external at the UPEI student union, says co-housing is a viable solution to help alleviate housing issues for students. (Isabella Zavarise/CBC)

She said housing close to the university is an important factor for students, as well as year-round rental options.

Drake said she sees this alternative option as a solution to the current housing shortage for students. 

"Throughout our survey some respondents were saying … some of my friends are living on couches right now, or there's five people living in a three bedroom apartment."

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About the Author

Isabella Zavarise is a video journalist with CBC in P.E.I. You can contact her at


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