March 28, 2008
Word is expected soon on whether the University will get provincial government support for a major student housing project.
Greg Fowler, director of Consumer Services, said the U of S made a formal grant application to the Saskatchewan Housing Authority in November asking for $19 million to help build 200 low income student family townhouse units. The project, expected to cost a total of $45 million, will address the high demand for affordable housing for students with families and will free up 134 rooms that can be then made available to undergraduates.
The change in provincial government late last year has delayed a decision by the housing authority, said Fowler, adding he makes a weekly phone call to Regina to check on the progress of the application.
The proposal is to build the townhouses in McEown Park. Students with families currently occupy the 67 two-bedroom apartments in Souris Hall there, and although Fowler said the building “isn’t very suitable for families,” there are about 50 families on the waiting list for the apartments.
“My sense it that the social need right now is for student family housing, but because this project would free up 134 beds for single students immediately, we win both ways.”
The 200 townhouses will be a mix of two-, three-, and four-bedroom accommodation in what Fowler described as “a much better living and community environment.”
There are no land costs involved in the on-campus project, he said, and Consumer Services will provide the required $3 million down payment. Rent from the townhouses would cover the construction costs “but the key is the $19 million grant. This project isn’t feasible without it.”
While it awaits word from the government, the University is proceeding with planning because the schedule will be tight – the townhouses need to be available for September 2009.
The project is part of an overall effort to address the housing needs of students, he said. The U of S houses 1,175 students, or six per cent of its student population, and when he spoke to On Campus News March 20, Fowler already had 729 more applications for housing than there are beds available for the 2008-09 academic year. By the end of the next integrated planning cycle, Consumer Services hopes to have added 800 beds to its inventory, enough for 15 per cent of students.