Ottawa to offer universities, colleges low-cost loans to build new student housing

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Canadian Press

Post-secondary institutions will be able to apply for low-interest loans to build student housing starting this fall, Housing Minister Sean Fraser says.

The federal government is tweaking an existing program to make universities, colleges, non-profits and private developers eligible for low-cost financing to build residences on and off campus.

“Canada needs more student housing and we’re going to help build it,” Fraser said at a news conference Monday.

The Apartment Construction Loan Program was topped up with an additional $15 billion in the fall, bringing the total funding available to $40 billion.

Monday’s announcement did not add more money to the funding pool available.

Fraser made the announcement alongside other cabinet ministers as the House of Commons returns after a winter break.

Minister of Housing, Infrastructure and Communities Sean Fraser responds to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa, Monday, Jan. 29, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Minister of Housing, Infrastructure and Communities Sean Fraser responds to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa, Monday, Jan. 29, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

The announcement comes as the federal government grapples with a ballooning international student program that has added strain to local housing markets.

More than 900,000 foreign students had visas to study in Canada last year and more than half of them had newly issued permits. That’s more than three times the number 10 years ago.

Last week, the federal government announced a two-year cap on international student enrolments that would reduce the number of new permits approved this year by 35 per cent.

In an interview with The Canadian Press, Bank of Canada governor Tiff Macklem said the new cap should help ease pressure on rental costs.

Data from Rentals.ca and market research firm Urbanation showed the average asking rent for December in Canada jumped 8.6 per cent year-over-year to a record high of $2,178 per month.

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