As Dorothy clicks her heels together and repeats “there’s no place like home,” she teleports from the strange and dangerous place of Oz back to the comfort of her home in rural Kanas.
If only it were that easy.
If you have been looking to rent in Ontario lately, then you may understand that finding a home is hard. As interest rates increase for homeowners, the growing financial burden is often passed down to renters, when possible. If there were more rental properties available then this wouldn’t be such a large issue, but there isn’t. Ontario needs more than a million homes in the next ten years to meet demands. And the location of those homes matters.
The lack of affordable housing is hitting postsecondary students especially hard. Whereas today’s white-collar worker can work from almost anywhere, many students are expected to be back in person for their studies. This means that they are often locked into a few neighborhoods around their campuses. It also means that demand in these neighborhoods is high as students are competing against each other for a limited number of affordable rooms.
Making matters worse is that students often compete with other renter types for affordable housing. Students are at a disadvantage because they are seen as transitory tenants who are untrustworthy and have precarious incomes.
With such competition, some students are spending months trying to find affordable housing with no luck. In desperation, these students are also increasingly becoming victims of elaborate scams.
Imagine you only have two weeks until you begin a full-time job and August and the only rental offer you have is from Ed Roseton, the landlord, demanding cash upfront to secure your room. What choice do you have? You say yes, fork over your savings, and feel relieved to finally find a place. Unfortunately, as many students are feeling the crunch to find housing before the school year, their relief quickly turns into disbelief when they find out that there was no Ed Roseton. He was a subletter of a subletter showing you the apartment and ran off with their money.
If students who fall for rental scams have enough saved up or can receive support from their families, then it is only a painful and embarrassing moment. If not, it could mean sleeping in stairwells or shelters for the month.
Students wish for a place they can call home but no amount of heel clicking will work because, for them, there’s no place like home.