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Student housing website looking for more uptake in Timmins

'It’s like if you want to eat, you are homeless, but if you pay your rent, you starve'
Abdulla Ansari has had no luck finding a place for his family to live while studying at Northern College.

Abdullah Ansari is looking for a home, and he’s found a little extra help.

The Northern College student has struggled to find housing in Timmins. He says the rental costs and the low vacancy rate have posed problems in his search.

“It’s like the prices are in competition with Toronto right now,” he said. “To find a place near the school is very difficult.” and Northern College are teaming up to help students like Ansari find a place to live in Timmins while they’re studying, and general manager Laurie Snure said they need local support.

“We’ve been doing this for 20 years now. However, our partnership with Northern College in Timmins is relatively new,” said Snure. has partnered with schools across North America that face the same problem many students have when coming to Timmins, especially since COVID-19.

“We call COVID the perfect storm in student housing. It’s just unbelievable. Nobody could have predicted this,” said Snure. “Student housing was booming, and then COVID hit, so what happened with students going home and going to an online setting, landlords had to fill those rentals.”

When students returned, the vacancy rate was low because the new tenants were young families and professionals who were not moving out.

“It was a real crisis that we’re starting to come out of now,” she said.

Ansari is still caught in that limbo as his wife and their three children are moving to live with him in Timmins while he studies supply chain management.

“My family is coming next month and it’s been very difficult,” he said. “I’ve been through Kijiji, marketplace, I’ve been searching all of those continuously.”

He said the cost is a daunting thing to face.

“It’s like if you want to eat, you are homeless, but if you pay your rent, you starve,” he said.

Snure said that the site has resources for anyone who might be interested in renting out a spare room, as well as larger properties. They work with domestic and international students looking for a home while studying.

Snure said this is an opportunity for anyone who wants to get into the rental market.

“We’ve actually educated people on how to become a landlord,” she said. “Now, with Northern College, we have done our traditional marketing in the community but because a lot of the landlords and residents don’t know us, so we haven’t had a whole lot of uptake in Timmins.”

The lack of housing options has pushed for more unconventional ideas like people renting out a single room and making arrangements to have their new tenants help with things like shovelling snow.

“These are specifically students, a lot of them young students and first-time renters,” she said. “We have some landlords that become friends with the students who live with them. They go to their weddings, so it’s not just a monetary benefit.”

More information is available here.

TimminsToday has reached out to Northern College but has not received a comment from them.

Amanda Rabski-McColl, LJI Reporter

About the Author: Amanda Rabski-McColl, LJI Reporter

Amanda Rabski-McColl is a Diversity Reporter under the Local Journalism Initiative, which is funded by the Government of Canada
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