UBC, AMS work to help new-to-Vancouver second-years find housing

Following the announcement of in-person classes this fall, UBC and the AMS have implemented new policies to help second-year students who have never been to campus or Vancouver find — either on-campus or off.

In April, President Santa Ono addressed the situation of limited capacity in campus housing in a broadcast sent to all students. “While we do not have the capacity to provide student housing this fall for all second-year students, we have taken steps to increase their likelihood of being offered housing,” he wrote in the broadcast. These steps, however, were not specified.

In a statement sent to The Ubyssey, Andrew Parr, the associate vice-president of Student Housing and Community Services, provided new details about the process.

“All second-year students who applied by March 1 had their application entered into the random selection process twice, thereby increasing their chances of receiving an offer,” the statement read.

Offers for student housing are made through the Residence Allocation Process (RAP), which randomly selects students and places them into available rooms. Parr said that the deadline for RAP was extended for a month this year, from February 1 to March 1, and second-year students were encouraged to apply as soon as possible.

Year-round housing offers were then sent to students in May 2021 — as it is typically done — to offer students living spaces ahead of the fall term as well as “provide them with first-right-of-refusal on their residence room in future years,” Parr wrote.

Through these steps, UBC Housing was able to “double the number of second-year students in Winter Session Upper Year residences from 600 to almost 1,200,” according to Parr.

Parr said UBC Housing also saw a “34-per-cent increase in the number of second-year students living in student residence, from 1,640 students to 2,200 students [in 2021]” in year-round and Winter Session housing.

UBC Housing acknowledges that it doesn’t have enough capacity to accommodate all second-year students, however through these steps, it hopes to welcome both new and returning students to residence this fall.

Along with UBC Housing, the AMS is set to launch its new housing service next month, which could be a helpful resource for students.

In 2020, the AMS completed a mass Housing Service Feasibility Study, the conclusion of which was that a housing service could be beneficial to students and help fulfil their different needs.

In a recent interview with The Ubyssey, AMS Student Services Manager Mitchell Prost said that they are in the final steps of developing the service and hope to have their first support session shift on September 8, 2021.

“We plan to have the housing service be a point of contact for students to be referred to different types of resources,” Prost said.

The housing service will address questions mostly related to off-campus housing, such as “how to start looking for housing, [what] type of housing that will be most suitable for the student, where to look for housing in terms of neighbourhood and many more,” said Prost.

In the meantime, while the service is yet to launch, AMS Housing Service Coordinator Jamie Logue has been answering students’ questions and needs through email. The AMS hopes to switch to drop-in sessions in September as soon as the service is launched.

Students can contact the AMS housing coordinator for queries at housing@ams.ubc.ca