In a previous article published in Arthur, we reported on the housing crisis in Peterborough and its connection to a similar crisis in Toronto. However, there is much more to discuss concerning our little town, including international student housing, homelessness, and how housing crisis shelters are struggling.
It might not be well known, but many international students face problems with finding suitable housing while studying in Peterborough. Some end up paying ridiculous residence fees at Trent, anywhere from $9000 to $13,000 for two semesters, while domestic (Canadian citizens and permanent residents) students only pay $4550 to $8675 (not including meal plans). What’s worse is that students with physical disabilities who need accessible housing (or what I like to call “accommodating accommodation”) have few options which meet their needs, and sometimes end up having to pay for the most expensive living spaces on campus: Gzowski College. Not only is this unfair to those students, but the lack of accessibility around Trent and associated buildings can be appaling. However, as a mostly able-bodied person, I am not the proper authority to discuss this.
So where do international students go when they can’t afford Trent’s outrageous housing fees? The answer is not good. As we previously mentioned in the last housing crisis article, slumlords are a persistent scourge on the Peterborough landscape. International students are particularly easy prey for these miserable misers, since they often have no knowledge of tenant rights, unjust required deposits, and what good housing standards are in Southern Ontario. Then without warning, students and youth, both international and domestic can be evicted illegally by corrupt landlords. There are few places to go when you’re on the street, but thankfully we have several local shelters.
In a short phone interview with Brooke Erickson, the Community Engagement Coordinator for the Brock Street Youth Emergency Shelter (YES), Erickson recalled how international students of Fleming and Trent sometimes end up in their halls, seeking a bed to sleep in while they figure out where to go next. This is usually because their landlords evict them and they have no family or close friends to turn to, having come to Canada alone.
The Shelter, which caters to youth age 16 to 24 and families with young children, has been open since 2003 and in 2019 helped 222 individuals. 61 percent were youths, while the rest were families with young children. A wide variety of people end up using their facilities, not just international students and people in crisis. There is no wrong reason to seek a bed at YES, and if you or someone you know is in need of a place to stay, do not hesitate to reach out. Details below.
On a final note, with the “Student Choice Initiative” opt-out scheme that was implemented last semester, Brooke at YES was happy to report that they had one of the lowest opt-out rates from students. With a levy fee of only $1.53 percent student to help YES, paying the fee just seems like the right thing to do.
Want to know how you can help? The most pressing matter for YES is keeping their cupboards and fridges stocked. They are entirely dependent on donations for food. They also function with a staff of 40, who sometimes end up working 24-hour shifts. They currently only have 10 regular volunteers and always need more help around the house! If neither of those options suit you, then money donations are always welcome, seeing as the YES staff know best what they are in need of.
What to get in touch with YES? Find them at 196 Brock Street, call them at 705-748-3851, or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.