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In tuition : a case study of UBCO student youth rental housing experiences in the City of Kelowna McEwan, Jamie Gordon


The purpose of this thesis is to conduct a case study of the University of British Columbia Okanagan’s student youth (ages 18–29) rental housing experiences in the City of Kelowna, British Columbia. Kelowna features high rental costs and low rental vacancy rates. The rental housing problems that Kelowna currently faces have been acknowledged by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, the local government, and the local media. However, there is a dearth of peer-reviewed literature on student youth rental housing experiences Kelowna. Data were obtained using semi-structured interviews conducted with 10 key informants and 30 student youth currently attending UBCO and living in the City of Kelowna’s rental housing market. The study population for this research includes Canadian-born and internationally-born students, some living on campus and some off. The primary conclusions of this case study are that the student youth respondents face barriers of rental housing unaffordability, unsuitability, and unavailability. The issues of unsuitable rental housing include its quality, locale, roommate problems, and discrimination from landlords. Empirical evidence indicates that the coping strategies used among UBCO student youth in Kelowna include social networking, taking on part-time jobs, and using student loans to pay for housing. There are also a variety of coping strategies recognized as important for this population, but not being currently utilized, including crowding or sharing housing, and living in a state of “hidden homelessness”. Finally, this thesis discusses a variety of potential policy recommendations made by the key informants, including re-assessing funding and cooperation between the private and public sectors, constructing additional purpose-built rental units, creating rental housing services for UBCO student youth, and examining the utilization of secondary suites. This exploratory case study expands on the existing literature by focusing on UBCO’s student youth rental housing experiences in the City of Kelowna. Moreover, this research deals with an understudied topic. The findings from this study suggest that further research must be done on university student youth rental housing experiences in mid-size cities such as Kelowna.

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