With the dramatic increase in the seniors’ population as the baby boom moves into this age category, the following information is troubling, but not unexpected-seniors who are selling their house to move into a retirement home should ensure they have a place to go.

Statistics Canada has released their 2016 Seniors’ Housing report, with a  download report available by province here.

For the fourth year in a row, the vacancy rate for seniors’ independent living facilities in British Columbia  has declined, from 9.8 per cent in 2015 to 5.7 per cent in 2016.  Why? Seniors may be living longer, but they are also selling their accommodations to move into these facilities.  The average rent for a seniors’ retirement home is also increasing to an average of $3,329.00 a month.

British Columbia’s Seniors’ Advocate Isobel Mackenzie is aware of the challenge, and has been reporting on the gaps in service for seniors. In her 2015 annual report Mackenzie notes that housing must be affordable, accessible and available for seniors. She has been receiving complaints that seniors cannot access housing in their preferred residential facility, that they are concerned over increasing housing costs, and that there is a need for assistance in dealing with housing subsidy applications. There are also gaps when seniors are being discharged from hospitals without adequate home supports in place.  Half of all the calls to the B.C. Seniors’ Advocate relate to this issue.

This brings up the conversation about having seniors’ housing at the different care levels available in the different neighbourhoods that seniors currently reside in, so that they can age in place. The strict criteria to qualify for housekeeping  services means that many frail seniors with fixed incomes do not qualify for assistance.  Sixty-five per cent of seniors also have no retirement benefit package assisting with the cost of medications, glasses and hearing  aids. 

Metro Vancouver is becoming a place where both the young and the elderly demographic groups are feeling the  pinch in accommodation, affordability and accessibility to housing.

Is there a way for both of these demographic groups to have access to affordable housing in every neighbourhood? What would that look like?