Students hold conflicting views on limiting number of international students in order to increase available housing

By: Christina Klysh

Some international students at Red River College Polytechnic are feeling the pressures of Canada’s housing crisis.

“A majority of them are struggling in terms of finding housing. Most are staying at an Airbnb once they arrive here,” said Roma Mendoza.

Mendoza, an international student at RRC Polytech, is the founder and president of the Newcomer Connections Support Club. The club provides resources and support to newcomer students.

“You either have to find a basement or just a bed space,” Mendoza said.

Yashas Patel, a Digital Media Design student, just arrived in Canada from Mumbai, India. He said he’s currently sharing an apartment with four other people. 

“We have to take into account every buck—where I’m gonna spend it and when I’m gonna spend it,” said Patel. He said he’s also worried about saving up for a winter coat.

It’s not just the lack of affordable housing that’s impacting international students. Some are also struggling to find part-time jobs to support themselves while they’re in school.

“I think I have applied to more than 500 jobs on Indeed,” said international student Tanureet Kaur. “I am not getting any replies from anywhere. I need a part-time job as a full-time student.”

Roma Mendoza, founder and president of Red River College Polytechnic’s Newcomer Connections Support Club, walks through the courtyard at the college’s Notre Dame Campus on Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2023. (Christina Klysh)

Mendoza said that students without a job often face additional challenges finding housing, as many landlords require applicants to provide proof of employment.

Florian Espinosa, an international student in the Business Management program, said the hardest part of applying for places to live was supplying extra documents like a reference letter from a previous landlord.

“How do you provide a reference letter from a landlord if you’ve never been here before?” asked Espinosa.

RRC Polytech has 2,625 registered and enrolled international students this semester, according to the college’s manager of global engagement Bryan Meng. He said the student residence at RRC Polytech can only accommodate 100 students, a number which was reached in June. There are over 30 students on the waitlist. 

Some federal ministers, including Immigration Minister Marc Miller, Housing Minister Sean Fraser and Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc, have suggested putting a cap on the number of international students allowed to enter Canada in order to address the housing crisis. 

Prachi Sharma, an international student studying information technology, said a temporary cap could help limit the number of international students who come to Canada and end up struggling.

“Students come here with big dreams, and when they don’t get jobs or proper housing, they get frustrated or become depressed,” Sharma said.

Mendoza disagrees.

“I don’t think we can limit the people who would like to come here. The concern right now is the resources we have here already,” Mendoza said.