Master’s Students Tackling Illegal Rooming Houses

I’m very pleased to announce this initiative with Dr. Linovski, which will shed some much needed light on the challenges faced by neighbourhoods, residents and tenants in communities surrounding suburban universities like the University of Manitoba.   The collection of real time data and statistical analysis will ultimately lead to implementation of the right “big picture” solutions!

My thanks to the Winnipeg Free Press for covering this important story.


Master’s students tackling illegal rooming houses

Winnipeg Free Press   By: Aldo Santin    Posted: 05/19/2016 7:28 PM 

Residents in the Fort Richmond and University Heights neighbourhoods will be getting help from a group of master’s students on how to resolve the problems caused by illegal rooming houses and student rental homes.

Orly Linovski, an assistant professor in the city planning department at the University of Manitoba, said she believes her students can help the residents find some innovative solutions since illegal student housing has created a set of cascading problems that have been frustrating residents and eluding any resolution from city hall.

 “The goals of the (program) is hopefully to get a product that is useful to the community and also have the students look at these issues in depth and aid in their education,” Linovski said.

The growing student enrolment at the U of M has created a problem for area residents, who said absentee landlords have been buying single-family homes and squeezing as many student tenants into them that they can get away with and not maintaining the properties. The residents have complained of: landlords allowing tenants to park in backyards and renting parking spots to students on front lawns and rear yards; illegally converted homes that have become fire hazards; stories of many single-family homes being converted to accommodate anywhere from six to 10 tenants.

As a first step, a neighbourhood group is being formed and volunteers are going door-to-door to compile an inventory of home ownership.

The project, which will start in the fall, will help the students work toward their goals of becoming professional planners while helping the residents. Linovski said the neighbourhood problems make for an ideal learning situation. Her class of 15 students in the first year of the master’s program tackle real-world issues in a professional planner-client relationship.

“We look for a projects that allow for a lot of engagement with either the community partner or other stakeholders to give students an idea of what professional practise is like,” Linovski said.

Ward councillor Janice Lukes said she is excited at the prospect of having master’s students tackle the neighbourhood problems.

“There’s never been a good analysis done on the issues in these two communities,” Lukes (South Winnipeg-St. Norbert) said, adding while the residents gather the neighbourhoods’ ownership profiles, the graduate students will crunch the data, look at best practices in other communities and offer the local residents a range of options on how to deal with the problems.

“We’re going to get a report, when they’re done, that will say ‘we have a problem here and here are some recommended solutions,’” Lukes said. “We’ll take those best practices and approach the province, the city, the university and the residents and see which best practices fit to help our problems.”

Lukes said the review is not just for the Fort Richmond and University Heights neighbourhood, adding it will also take in the neighbouring communities of Waverley Heights and Bridgwater, which have some of the same problems.

Linovski has been at the U of M for three years. Before coming here, she earned her PhD at UCLA and her M.Sc in Urban Planning at the University of Toronto and has worked in planning and policy at the municipal and professional level. Her areas of expertise include transportation equity and professional practices. She is currently researching bus rapid transit and how cities in Canada plan transit lines and how they prioritize development potential in comparison to the needs of residents who use transit.

This will be the second community project her master’s students have taken on in Winnipeg. Last year, they worked on the South Main Street redevelopment for CentreVenture.

Different universities interact with their surrounding neighbourhoods in different ways, Linovski said, and she expects the student research will include a precedent review. “Seeing what we can learn from how universities interact with their surrounding communities and how residents interact with large institutional uses.”

Linovski said her students will look at the U of M neighbourhoods from a big-picture perspective. “What are the land-use policies in place and what are the ways to address the housing issues from a higher level? Are there key transportation issues that need to be addressed that would perhaps allow more areas of the city to be accessible to students?”

While the student work begins in the fall, Linovski said it will be completed within the first term and a final report presented to Lukes and the residents before Christmas. She said she has some ideas on where the research will go but wants to see what her students discover.

Read more by Aldo Santin.

Photo:  RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES – Coun. Janice Lukes said the students’ rooming-house review is not just for the Fort Richmond and University Heights neighbourhood, adding it will also take in the neighbouring communities of Waverley Heights and Bridgwater, which have some of the same problems.



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