Since the Waterloo Student Housing Rally on Sept. 25 at City Hall, the Student Housing Crisis activist group has been pushing for housing rights through various mediums, ranging from media attention to addressing City Council on the matter directly.
The group’s concerns are also reaching a pivotal point of publicity as their Facebook page reached 1,700 followers.
The group took their concerns to the Waterloo City Hall and spoke with Mayor Dave Jaworsky before addressing the Council on Oct. 7.
Their pitch highlighted the significant concerns associated with student housing in Waterloo, tying the issue back to Waterloo’s overall housing crisis.
“It is absurd. It is downright absurd that a city of over 100 000 [people] lacks a homeless shelter,” Moscoe said to City Council.
In addition to discussing housing shortages and the bargaining power of landlords, Moscoe mentioned the condition of housing shelters within the region.
“Kitchener and Cambridge have homeless shelters, but the conditions are so bad that homeless people have said they would prefer to sleep on the streets,” Moscoe said.
Sylvia Skoruch, founder of the group’s Facebook page, says she has been in contact with WUSA, Laurier Students’ Union, Contestoga Students Inc. and Waterloo MPP Catherine Fife, who all helped with organizing a series of workshops geared towards educating students around tenant rights held on Nov. 12.
The event was held at UW’s Engineering 7 building as well as Conestoga College to reach out to as many students as possible.
In addition to helping curate these workshops, both Skoruch and MPP Fife compiled a list of student testimonies regarding housing complaints by Waterloo students into a master-document, sent to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau along with a cover letter.
Skoruch received a reply from a representative of Trudeau, which outlined general plans the federal government is taking to address the housing crisis.
The need for specific accommodations is a must, Skoruch argued in her next letter.
“As you can probably tell, we are a group of very determined individuals who are taking this housing crisis seriously,” Skoruch said. “We are looking for more active solutions with regard to this matter.”
The Student Housing group has previously singled out KW4Rent and Accommod8u as some of the most prominent housing companies in Waterloo that are constricting student housing rights.
“We are working with the geospatial group from UW here, to create a map of sorts showing where a lot of the [housing] problems are occurring and under which companies, as well as the price ranges to what they are actually charging for rent,” Colton Flynn, a prominent member of the housing crisis group said.
Kiran Maldonado, a member of the Student Housing group, said these major housing companies view students as “wallets with legs,” disregarding their housing rights.
The group has published their action plan, highlighting some of the critical long term and short term goals they hope to achieve with their ongoing rally for housing rights.
They will re-present their concerns to City Hall on Dec. 12 in hopes of attracting more attention to their cause.
The Student Housing Crisis activist group have also been providing interviews to press such as The Record, Kitchener Today, Community Edition, CBC, and previously Imprint.
David Moscoe, an active member and voice of the group, comments on the importance of this publicity in the group’s journey towards advocating for student housing rights.
“We want to raise awareness to the public, and to do that, it has been a combination of doing interviews so that [the student housing crisis] stays as relevant news articles, bringing a lot of awareness to these issues,” said Moscoe.