Research

The research process to develop the The University Community on Campus – UBC’s Housing Action Plan began with a thorough review of UBC’s existing housing programs and examination of the findings from a UBC Staff & Faculty Housing Demand Study (2010) and a Student Housing Demand Study (2009). Several new options were then brought forward for consideration as a result of an assessment of other universities’ and jurisdictions’ housing programs and public input. Significant financial analysis of housing options was also completed throughout the development of the Plan.

Faculty, Staff and Student Housing Demand Studies

Two housing demand studies informed the development of the Plan. The UBC Staff & Faculty Housing Demand Study (2010) and the Student Housing Demand Study (completed in 2009 as part of the Vancouver Campus Plan), helped to develop a profile and better understand the housing issues and challenges facing UBC faculty and staff, and helped to forecast future demand for on-campus student housing and fully explore student housing needs.

Findings from the UBC Staff & Faculty Housing Demand Study indicate:

    • Affordability is the most important consideration for faculty and staff when making housing choices followed closely by the availability of community amenities and services and proximity to work and transit.
    • Data from the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver shows that in January 2012, the benchmark price1 of a townhouse on the west side of Vancouver would require a salary of $153,3602 to be able to purchase. In 2011, only 10% of UBC’s full-time workforce earned more than $150,000/year. A townhouse on Vancouver’s east side would require a salary of $117,962 to be able to purchase3.
    • Households that are likely to experience the greatest housing pressures are those that are dependent on a single income, those moving to the area from outside the Lower Mainland and/or those just entering the housing market.
    • While most of UBC’s workforce rents, there is strong interest in homeownership with most non-homeowners saving for a down payment.
    • Proximity to campus is also a significant factor in shaping individual housing choices with many faculty and staff wanting more housing choices closer to where they work.
    • Interest in living on campus is linked to the availability of housing choices and other services and amenities.


Findings from the Student Housing Demand Study include:

    • 81% of on-campus students recognize academic and social benefits of living on campus.
    • 43% of students who live off campus would live on campus if they could.
    • Over 45% are commuting more than 40 minutes each way to campus.
    • 74% indicated that more shops and services would improve the quality of on-campus living experience.
    • The results of the analysis show that the demand for additional on-campus housing is significant and that UBC should plan to provide capacity for at least 45% of full-time students to live on campus in order to compensate for depletion and competition for rental housing nearby.
    • The demand pressures and competitive nature of the Vancouver rental housing market will continue to have a significant impact on the off-campus housing choices for students.

Full copies of the studies are available in the Reference Documents section.

Other Universities and Jurisdictions

During the planning process, UBC looked to 18 other major research universities in Canada and the United States (including Harvard, Columbia, New York University, the University of California, the University of Toronto, and McGill among others) to understand their rental housing provisions and home ownership programs. In addition to University based programs, UBC also looked at workforce housing delivered by the Whistler Housing Authority, and a BC Housing’s non-profit housing model.

The research into academic programs for faculty and staff at the 18 universities4 revealed the following:

  • The vast majority of universities provide faculty-only housing programs.
  • Most provide market rental housing options, with just fewer than half also providing restricted rental housing options. The number of units available is generally modest (10% or less of full-time employment totals). Columbia and New York University are the exceptions with very significant stocks of restricted  rental housing.
  • Eight provide purchase or long-term lease housing; these universities have a small number of restricted housing units that are available at reduced prices. The exception is the University of California at Irvine, where there are nearly 1,000 units of restricted ownership housing.
  • Housing financial assistance programs are offered by most of the universities surveyed. These programs include a range of mortgage packages as well as programs in the form of housing allowances and zero-interest forgivable loans. Financial contributions are generally in the range of $30,000 to $50,000. Columbia also offers an annual housing supplement to faculty.
  • General trend to providing more comprehensive “whole life” support services during recruitment which offer more personalized services addressing partner employment, tuition benefits and child care.

See the Workforce Housing Research document for a summary of what UBC learned from other universities and jurisdictions.


1 Price of a typical property in a given market
2 Qualifying income based on 10% down payment, 5% interest rate amortized over 25 years
3 Townhouses are used for comparison since UBC builds only multi-family housing on campus
4 Universities considered to be peers or competitors for academic talent were prioritized for this research.  See Appendix for list of universities surveyed.

a place of mind, The University of British Columbia

UBC Board of Governors
Community Planning Task Group
6328 Memorial Road, Room 121,
Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z2, Canada
Tel: 604.822.2127
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