Local projects look to change housing
Studies look at experiences with
student housing in Waterloo
Housing trends are being brought to the forefront of research in Waterloo. In the past year, two studies have been launched which look at housing — one small scale and one large.
The City of Waterloo’s town and gown committee created a student housing working group comprised of representatives from student associations at the graduate and undergraduate level from all three post-secondary institutions, the city and the region.
Around this time last year, the working group circulated a survey amongst students in the city. Ryan King, manager of residence assignments at the University of Waterloo, said though it was well-received, they didn’t get a lot of traction. As a result, this past fall they decided to put out another survey.
“The whole student housing working group and the survey itself is to look at housing basically through a lens of safety and quality of life,” said King. “We want to make sure that’s the main focus of everything.”
The survey looks into the wants and needs of students in terms of housing and their experience with accommodation in the city.
The need for the survey came out of the lack of information about students’ experience with housing in Waterloo. When the national census is conducted, students are often directed to their hometown.
“For the City of Waterloo one of the things that we were very interested in participating with this survey and supporting it is because we have a lack of information, because as I said post-secondary students comprise about 20 to 25 per cent of our population, but they’re not getting represented in our national survey unless they are a resident here and we know a lot of them are not,” said Tanja Curic, policy planner at the City of Waterloo.
They had 5,429 respondents to the survey.
“We were very pleased with this response rate, in particular in comparing it with the one that we first tested earlier last year,” said Curic.
The working group is currently working on analyzing the survey responses.
“I think we’re looking at it as making sure we do follow the process of making sure that we collect the results as a working group, work toward analyzing those results, bring that back to the town and gown committee and then figure out what the next step to make sure the report is released in some way publicly so people really get the snapshot of what the student experiences are living in the community,” said King.
He continued that the first draft of the report will be done by mid-February and in March they will present to the town and gown committee.
“I think by having these results and having this large pool of data can help us make some really informed decisions moving forward and on what a student’s experience is like in the community and when they’re here in Waterloo,” said King.
Generationed City is taking a larger scope approach to looking at trends surrounding housing.
The project was launched last week by Markus Moos, assistant professor of school planning at the University of Waterloo, and looks at how age and generation might be tied to issues such as inequality, housing and employment.
The idea came out of research Moos has been working on over the last several years.
“What I had found was that there’s an increasing segregation of young people in specific parts of the cities, primarily downtown, but also other parts of cities that had the denser, high rise and lots of what you might call urban amenities,” he explained. “I was interested in finding out more about what the reasons behind this are as well as what are the implications of this kind of segregation by age.”
He wondered, for example, if this segregation was due to issues between generational relationships.
Moos has four research assistants working with him on the project. To collect data, they will be circulating a survey over the course of the year.
“The next phase of the project is really trying to get more cities, basically across North America involved in trying to help us get survey participants because I suspect, I’m confident that our findings will be of great interest to municipal planning, and housing departments, or even a provincial or state level,” Moos said.
He hopes the issues the survey highlights will be addressed by relevant parties who can then begin to develop solutions.
“So it’s hopefully not going to just be another study that sits on a shelf somewhere because we are trying to so hard to make these connections with the policy world.”
The survey is reaching out to people in the United States and Canada, and is specifically looking at how housing and employment challenges change as people age.
“I think the goal here is that if we understand better what the challenges are and how they might differ for different kinds of cities with different kinds of young adults in different income brackets and different ethnic backgrounds, that we can come up with more appropriate solutions that are targeted very directly at the problem itself,” Moos said.