Money Officially Transferred to Student Housing Fund

CSU Gives PUSH Fund $1.85 Million, UTILE Sets 2017 Delivery Date

Laurent Levesque is the general coordinator of Unité de travail pour l’implantation de logement étudiant, which is overseeing the housing project. Photo Jonathan Caragay-Cook

The cheque has been signed and delivered.

The Concordia Student Union has officially transferred $1.85 million into the Popular University Student Housing fund with the goal of creating an affordable student housing cooperative for Concordia undergraduate students.

The project is on track for its July 2018 delivery date, according to Laurent Levesque, the general coordinator of Unité de travail pour l’implantation de logement étudiant. UTILE is a local not-for-profit group responsible for ultimately planning and executing the housing project.

The space where the housing unit will be built has yet to be determined, but Levesque is hopeful it’ll be announced soon. He said they’re currently negotiating for spaces in multiple neighbourhoods at once, including the Plateau and Griffintown.

The CSU and UTILE had a commemorative event to give away a giant cheque. Courtesy of the CSU. 

The goal is to find a place that, among other specifications, is approximately a 30 minute transit ride from the Concordia downtown campus, Levesque added.

In the March 2015 CSU general elections, students voted in favour of reallocating the $1.85 million from a separate fund into the eventual creation of the PUSH fund.

The PUSH fund is a not-for-profit organization run by five board members. This includes the CSU and Marguerite Mendell, a Concordia professor, who acts as the board’s chair.

Last month, the CSU announced that a term sheet was signed between all involved parties. The term sheet is legally-binding and essentially acts as a template for how the project will proceed.

Money for the housing project will not come exclusively from the PUSH fund. The Chantier de L’Economie Sociale’s Trust has already pledged to invest $1.5 million directly into the cooperative’s construction. Levesque said there are talks with city and public officials about public subsidiaries.

Thus far, the staff at UTILE has been paid through loans from both the PUSH fund and another organization, which gave them $100,000, according to Levesque. UTILE was first created in 2012 by a group of UQAM students—including Levesque—with the interest of transforming the Îlot Voyageur building nearby the bus terminal downtown into a student housing cooperative.

It didn’t work out, and Levesque said the project in collaboration with the CSU is their first one.

“Even as an urban planning student [at UQAM], I couldn’t imagine being in this project four years ago,” he added.

Previously, the general coordinator of the CSU, Terry Wilkings, said he expected students to move in by the fall of 2017, but that timeline seems to have shifted. If it isn’t completed by 2019, then the project will be terminated and all assets would be returned to the original owners, Wilkings explained.