Halifax International Students Affected by Housing Crisis

The severe effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and Halifax’s housing crisis have hindered international students looking to study in the province, forcing them to scramble to find appropriate housing.

The housing market in Atlantic Canada’s biggest city is heating up, and the international students have little in the way of selection.

A Master’s student at Dalhousie University, Umme Mim Mohsin, mentioned some challenges she faced in finding appropriate housing when she moved to Nova Scotia from Bangladesh in 2021. She said that besides the challenge of trying to apply for apartments while not being in the country, there were not many options available to choose from. 

A report published by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation reveals that the vacancy rate in Halifax is one percent, one of the lowest in the nation. In addition, the city is dealing with a rising population, narrowing the housing rental market.

The acting executive director of the Nova Scotia International Student Program, Mike Rosson, said that the program finds it challenging to place some of its students for the first time in 25 years of operation. 

“Everything from families using their extra room now as a home office, or children or family members moving into homes to the many people selling or downsizing their home, there are many issues at play,” he said.

The program has approximately 1,100 students enrolled for this school year, and about 100 of them have not been placed in a host family yet.

Manager of Housing and Student Life, Chauncey Kennedy, informed that international school students on urban and rural campuses face various challenges as people move back to the province.

Mount Saint Vincent University spokeswoman Gillian Batten informed in an email that the school has not heard from international students about the issue. Still, it is aware of the “low availability of off-campus housing.”