May 19, 2024

The Queens County Citizen

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Housing Crisis: The Stress of Finding Yourself on the Street at 20

Housing Crisis: The Stress of Finding Yourself on the Street at 20

At the age of 20, Benjamin Kiakou fears he won't be able to pay his rent by the end of May if he doesn't find a solution. A situation that forces him to make difficult choices.

Students at Cégep André-Laurendeau benefit from a loan and scholarship program to pursue technology in operations and supply chain management. The amount allows him to make ends meet and pay for his modest studio-turned-room at a cost of $730 a month in the Mile-End district.



PHOTO AGENCY QMI, DÉSIRÉ KAFUNDA

“Without the scholarship, it would have been complicated. I lost my job because I was going to school. I think I went to rent arrears hoping my employer would understand. Otherwise, I would have definitely had to leave the apartment,” explained the young man, who decided to share his story to witness the effects of the housing crisis.

To be eligible for this program, you must be in full-time studies. But for administrative reasons, Benjamin is eligible for only a fraction of the amounts allocated by the program and soon finds himself without resources.

With these low amounts, Benjamin fears that he will no longer be able to pay his rent and thus lose his home.

“If nothing works, I think I'll apply for welfare. If social assistance doesn't respond in time, I have no choice but to leave home and spend time with a friend in the meantime,” he sighs.

He plans to work two jobs to avoid ending up on the street and “to be able to earn a little more income,” otherwise he will have to resort to last-resort solutions.

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Distance compromises academic success

Benjamin was doing very well academically, but after failing his exams, he decided to move closer to his school.

“Here, I am twice as close to my school. It allows me to be more on time, more efficient. Sometimes it took me almost two hours with metro breakdowns,” he added.

Benjamin said he had to get up between 4am and 5am to go to CEGEP at 8am.

Hence he needs accommodation to continue his studies in peace.

“There, I come home a little earlier so I actually have time to study,” he continued.

The young athlete, who confides in friends to ease the stress of his condition, is not very optimistic about the coming years.

“Obviously, I think it's going to get worse,” he said. [Les loyers] Never down to begin with. I think $700 for the studio today. Tomorrow it will be $900. It won't stop.”

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