North Island College seeking accommodation families for international students

NIC’s Office of Global Engagement is calling for Comox Valley residents to open their homes to NIC students caught in a tight rental market.

eholds willing to host NIC international students arriving in late December for classes this January.

NIC has a high demand for peerstay hosts, willing to share their home with an international student.

About one third of NIC’s international students attending class this September live in homestay and peerstay accommodations. More students will arrive in late December to start class this January.

Comox Valley residents Cindy and John Zachariou hosted two students this fall and have already signed up to welcome a new student from India next month.

“I’ve been telling everyone how great it is to have these students,” said Cindy. “Our kids have grown up and they have families of their own. We have this big house and a whole lower level that’s not being used so it just made sense to us. The students are very independent. It’s not like having a younger teen in the house. They are young adults who really want to immerse themselves in Canadian culture.”

NIC accommodation officer Marjola Muellner matches international students with supportive families in the community. She knows having a safe, comfortable and affordable place to live while studying is essential to students’ ability to integrate in the community and be successful in school.

“Peerstay is a win-win,” said Muellner. “Students enjoy the independence of buying their own groceries and cooking their own meals while hosts reap the benefits of learning a new culture and providing a home away from home.”

The Valley’s hot real estate market only makes finding accommodations more difficult.

The latest Comox Valley Community Foundation Vital Signs Report shows the Comox Valley with a 0.5 per cent rental vacancy rate – one of the lowest vacancy rates on Vancouver Island. In 2016, the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) calculated the region’s rental vacancy rate at one per cent.

For Cindy and John Zachariou, the benefits of peerstay are mutual.

“If you’re willing to open your home it can be a really good experience,” said Cindy. “You’re helping them and they are helping you. You do get $500 per student and it’s really nice to have young adults in the house.”

Email accommodations@nic.bc.ca for a peerstay application or visit bit.ly/2jfh8oH for more information.

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