Seniors housing: Pieces of the Puzzle
Patrick Langston, The Ottawa Citizen
Pinning me with a no-nonsense look, 96-year-old Phyllis Cummings says that when it came time to give up her apartment seven years ago, she chose Abbeyfield House on Parkdale Avenue because “the other (residences) I looked at were too big. This is a house; you’re not a number here.”
In fact, most institutions, even the largest, do at least strive for intimacy. But you can see her point. Abbeyfield, part of an international non-profit organization, is a brick Victorian house with a front garden and veranda. Residents have their own bed-sitting rooms with an ensuite and individual temperature controls, but share meals at a large dining room table next to the busy kitchen.
Designed for up to 10 independent seniors (there’s no on-site medical service), the home is close to bustling Wellington Street. Rent including meals is $1,860 a month.
Says resident Dorothy Allen, 91, “It’s the best-kept secret in Ottawa.”
It’s also one model — albeit still a rare one — for meeting the housing needs of a rapidly aging population.
The latest census figures from Statistics Canada forecast a spike in the over-65 age group to 22.8 per cent of the population in 2031 from 14.8 per cent in 2011.
As boomers age, many are already finding maintenance-intensive suburban homes impractical. How will the housing market respond over the next two decades?
According to Avi Friedman, a professor of architecture at McGill University with a special interest in housing, “Many baby boomers will live well into their 80s, so the next 20 or 25 years in housing will be governed by them looking for suitable accommodation.”
He sees a boom in smaller apartments in densely populated urban areas to accommodate the reduced space requirements and fixed incomes of seniors.
Purpose-built apartment construction has tailed off dramatically across Canada, so an aging population could ignite a boom in either apartment construction or give new buoyancy to the current craze among small investors for purchasing and renting out condo units.
Friedman also forecasts a renovation explosion.
To read the full story: http://www.househunting.ca/ottawa/Seniors+housing+Pieces+puzzle/6820257/story.html