Student protest on housing issue continues to expand

Student protest on housing issue continues to expand

Student protest on housing issue continues to expand

A movement started by a group of students to draw attention to the sky-high dormitory and rental apartment costs across the country, especially in the Turkish metropolis of Istanbul, continues to expand with more and more students becoming a part of it.

Member of a group calling itself Barınamıyoruz (We Can’t Take Shelter) Movement came together in Istanbul’s Beşiktaş district this time and spent the night sleeping on the benches in the Şairler Park in Vişnezade neighborhood.

Noting that they meet on park benches which are seen as the most accessible option to make their voices heard, students expect support from all university communities, NGOs, political parties and public figures.

Mert Sarıkaya, a student of Istanbul Technical University who came to the city from the Aegean province of İzmir with his sister - also a student - about two weeks ago, highlighted how difficult it has become to find accommodation these days.

Sarıkaya stated that despite looking for flats on rent in Şişli, Beşiktaş and Kağıthane districts for quite some time, he still couldn’t get his hands on a decent one.

“One has to think of spending at least 3,500 Turkish Liras ($400) a month as rent. The flats below that price are either windowless, low-level or filthy,” Sarıkaya noted.

Kardelen Şahin, a student from Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University, said that she could not find a dormitory and that she was having a hard time finding a flat.

“I could not find a dormitory, and the rent of the houses increased to 3,000 liras [$350]. But landlords want 4,000 liras [$460] for the same apartment if you are a student,” Şahin said.

In addition to Istanbul, students in Ankara, İzmir and Kocaeli also started to put up for the night at parks as finding an affordable apartment is becoming what can be called a grueling experience for them.

Unfurling a banner reading, “We Can’t Take Shelter,” some students gathered in Hasanağa Park in İzmir’s Buca district to protest against the increasing rent prices, while some students set up tents in Ilhan Erdost Park in Ankara to bring to light their state of turmoil.

The police asked students to remove the tents they had set up, and those who opposed the orders were detained.

Meanwhile, Ankara Mayor Mansur Yavaş announced that the municipality has started to provide temporary accommodation to students who were facing housing problems in the Turkish capital.

“More than a thousand applications have been received so far, while new applications continue to arrive. We started to place our students in our shelters, dormitories and hotels we rented,” Yavaş said.

“I will always be by your side as you build the future with your free ideas,” he noted.

More than 1.3 million students study in Istanbul at 57 universities, 320,000 students in Ankara at 22 universities and 176,000 students in Izmir at 10 universities.