Holland College says it's making some progress in reducing its wait-list for student housing, but demand still outweighs supply.
About 150 students were waiting for housing back in July, though the list has since dropped to around 115 people.
College president Sandy MacDonald said housing is still the No. 1 issue on campus, and that they're exploring ways to tackle the problem.
"There's a drastic shortage of housing and it's impacting enrolments and it's impacting the quality of life of our students," MacDonald said.
MacDonald said housing has become a bigger issue since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
He said the issue is affecting post-secondary institutions nationwide.
New residence may be needed, president says
The college has 266 beds for students between its two residence buildings on the Charlottetown campus.
When the college was building its second residence seven years ago, there were questions about whether that building was even needed, MacDonald said.
"Now it's clear that we were right in building that and we probably should – if we are going to continue our growth in international students – build a third residence," he said, adding that the school would have to first see if it's financially doable.
The college started buying up nearby houses years ago. In total, they contain about 18 bedrooms.
But none of its offerings are enough to address the problem.
"We've been talking to homeowners and landlords in and around the college. We've created lists that were on our website to say, These are the people to call and these are the areas to look at. But we are concerned," MacDonald said.
What we're hearing from students is a lot of frustration and disappointment. - Eddie Childs, student union president
The student union says it agrees more residence spaces are needed.
"What we're hearing from students is a lot of frustration and disappointment, particularly students from off Island who are very career-minded, want to come to our community and make a difference and build their professional capacity," said union president Eddie Childs.
"It's devastating when people can't find what they need."
The union said it would also like to see the college create a safe housing coordinator to help students navigate the challenging housing landscape in P.E.I.
P.E.I. students would take priority
MacDonald said that if the province's housing shortage gets worse, the college might consider limiting the number of international students it admits in the future.
The president said it does not want to promise spaces to international students who may find themselves without anywhere to live.
As a publicly funded institution, MacDonald said the college's "first responsibility" is to prospective students from P.E.I.
"We are the community college of Prince Edward Island," he said.
"If we had to look at cutting back in a group, we would probably look first at the international population and we would probably look at our domestic population as being our No. 1 priority."