Concordia Student Union continues its program to help students and community members transition out of homelessness.
In their last meeting, the Concordia Student Union (CSU) successfully greenlit the continuing development of the CSU’s Transitional Housing Program. This project was intended to last only until Nov. 2. However, due to its success, it has been prolonged into a phase two until Aug. 2024. The second phase is the continuation of the first phase but with a bigger budget to assist more people.
The Transitional Housing Program gives struggling unhoused students and community members the opportunity to have temporary housing for up to three months while looking for a permanent place to live.
CSU sustainability coordinator Maria Chitoroaga, who ran for her position because of this project, proposed this program’s second phase in the council meeting. The motion was passed unanimously.
“This project is very close to my heart. It’s one of those projects that directly impact students’ lives,” Chitoroaga said.
The Transitional Housing Program’s first phase had a high success rate. Half of the people who have been housed have already found a permanent place to live and have graduated from the program. Several people did not need the full allotted three months to find permanent housing. The remaining individuals who need help just recently started the program.
“Our projection was that people would stay for three months, but one person stayed for just under three months, and another only stayed for half a month,” said Chitoroaga.
These people exceeded the CSU’s expectations and became independent faster than expected. However, the CSU’s Housing and Job Resource Centre (HOJO), anticipates an increased demand in the upcoming months because of the housing crisis.
“I would like to keep seeing ways in how we can enshrine this project so that it is permanent,” said CSU External Affairs and Mobilization Coordinator Hannah Jackson.
The CSU owns three furnished apartment units located close to Concordia’s Sir George Williams campus. Since the start of the program seven people have benefitted from the project’s help. These people either lacked stable social networks and were faced with dangerous sleeping spaces or relied on friends, where they could only stay for a few weeks.
“What has been done with the Transitional Housing Project is pretty exciting and unique in terms of what student unions are doing to substantially make a difference with students in precarious housing, which we know is getting worse,” Jackson said.
Students who wish to apply for this program can book an appointment at the HOJO to explain their situation. HOJO’s housing search director then interviews candidates on their situation. Those who do not qualify for temporary housing can still request additional help.
Phase two’s approved budget is $30,000. This will be funded through the Student Space, Accessible Education and Legal Contingency Fund. The proceeds go to funding the housing search director’s salary, furnishing, operating and groceries for the apartment units.
Towards the end of the meeting, the council touched upon a student-led class lawsuit against Concordia University. This issue is regarding the transfer of information for the purpose of administering Concordia University’s student health and dental insurance plan. This case is still ongoing and has yet to be resolved.