Students look at housing issue

It’s important for the Island’s education system to instill civic mindedness in students, preparing them to become good citizens and think of social justice and equality. As a final assignment for a Grade 12 Global Issues class at Colonel Gray High, teacher Andrew Rowe did just that.

For their final presentations of the year, the students were asked to research a real world issue and relate it back locally. The topics ranged from global warming and pollution, to hunger, immigration and Internet privacy.

Connor Crosby and Young Hao Yu chose to focus on PEI’s affordable housing crisis. Under the leadership of Mr. Rowe, they surveyed 260 people to better understand the housing issue on Prince Edward Island. They compared Victoria, B.C. - which has a vacancy rate of 0.8 per cent - with Prince Edward Island - which has a vacancy rate of 0.3 per cent - and considered whether some of the solutions under review in Victoria could work here.

The students examined possible solutions such as government loans to families and construction companies, reserving assisted housing for low income families, building new public housing, and regulating Air BnB type rentals. They analyzed the pros and cons of each idea.

“I just think it’s terrible that people don’t have the resources to live a good life,” Crosby told his classmates, 50 per cent of whom immigrated to Canada in the past five years. “We need to start these projects right away so we can start to see a drastic change immediately.”

Young says he believes the lack of affordable housing is the most important issue facing Islanders.

“How can we worry about anything else when people don’t have a place to lay their head at night?”

After carefully weighing the pros and cons of the options and the results of their survey, Crosby and Yu concluded that government should invest heavily in new public housing.

Social Development and Housing Minister Ernie Hudson, along with other provincial and municipal government representatives and members from Prince Edward Island’s three other political parties, attended the students’ presentation to hear Crosby and Yu’s ideas and share their own ideas and feedback.

“Islanders are struggling to find affordable, accessible and appropriate housing and we need to work collaboratively and creatively to find solutions,” Minister Hudson said.

"A good idea is a good idea no matter where it comes from.”

“It is great to see our Island education system encouraging students. This can only lead to strong leadership for our province in the future.”

Minister Hudson thanked the students for their work and asked to have a copy of the presentation emailed to him so he could share it with his department and fellow cabinet ministers.

“Housing is certainly the number one priority for us right now,” Hudson said.

For more information on the Housing Strategy

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