Finding housing this time of year proving to be difficult for RRC Polytech students.

By: Iris Dyck

On Oct. 7, Namrata Rane arrived in Winnipeg from Mumbai, India. With a list of apartments saved on Facebook Marketplace, the second-year Digital Media Design student began the daunting process of finding a home in a new city in the middle of the semester.

“All of us really struggled with accommodation and just to navigate around the city, because everything is new,” she said.

Rane said the pandemic caused her student visa to be delayed, forcing her to move after classes had already begun. Rane and another classmate, also from Mumbai, rented an Airbnb as they searched for an apartment together. They went to classes during the day and apartment viewings in the evenings and weekends.

She said they also struggled to find an affordable two-bedroom in a safe neighbourhood close to the college.

“There were a few places which I was really excited about, and when I went there, I was like, ‘I cannot be staying here,’” she said. 

It’s a challenge many students may face as classes at RRC Polytech shift from online to blended and in-person learning next semester. Some students, like Maaz Gundagi, opted for the campus residence over a private apartment. While the up-front cost might seem steep (a furnished single dorm at the Paterson GlobalFoods Institute costs over $2800 per semester), Gundagi said he likes the convenience of living near his classmates and the college. 

“You may think that it’s costly, but if you see it with a bigger perspective, then you don’t have to manage your bills and everything. It’s all included,” the Digital Media Design student said.

Maaz Gundagi lets himself into his dorm room at the Paterson GlobalFoods Institute. He said he likes the social atmosphere and proximity to the Roblin Centre campus./IRIS DYCK

Todd Buchanan, director of ancillary services at RRC Polytech, said demand for student dorms is slowly rising as next semester approaches. Pre-COVID-19, the college’s residences were full.

While Buchanan said there have been students living on campus throughout the pandemic, the building’s capacity has been lowered to comply with social distancing guidelines.

“Depending on provincial health guidelines and how they progress over the next little while, we’ll revisit that,” he said. 

Buchanan said RRC Polytech has agreements with The University of Winnipeg’s downtown student housing should the college’s residences fill up.

For Rane, she said keeping up with her assignments while apartment hunting was the hardest part of her move to Winnipeg. After securing their two-bedroom apartment in Osborne Village, she and her roommate spent a week catching up on homework before they had time to shop for furniture. She said some of their instructors gave them extensions, but the process was draining. 

“I’m still clearing my backlog,” she said.