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Luxury Vancouver hotel being converted into international student residence

Viva Suites on Howe Street is being converted into rental units for international students

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – A Vancouver company has a solution to help international and domestic students find housing. The company, CIBT Education Group, is converting a luxury downtown hotel into a student residence. The Viva Suites at the south end of Howe Street will be turned into about 200 housing units mainly targeted to students from abroad, but can include domestic students.

Toby Chu with CIBT Education Group says the low vacancy rate in the city makes it harder to attract foreigners. “If the student can’t find affordable place to live, they’ll go to other countries, the United States, Australia or the UK, so that’s a much bigger problem we must resolve. I mean, they have great education, but they couldn’t find a decent place to live, its part of the problem. It’s part of the formula we must fix.”

He adds this building will make more rental spaces available for the rest of the population. He says there are roughly 100, 000 international students in the region that inject billions of dollars into the economy through tuition. “Currently, there are about 112,000 foreign students in Metro Vancouver, and among those students they pay typically $800 to $1,000 per month in rent (apartment, basement or homestay). So that is a $1.12 billion industry just for Vancouver. BC is about $2.5 to $3 billion (in tuition).”

He’s hoping housing won’t be a turn off for foreign students with the industry expected to grow.
“According to the federal government’s news release on January 15, 2014, the federal government announced plans to double the number of students entering Canada from 25,000 to 450,000 over the next 8 years.”

He says most of the students are from China, India and South Korea.