Let’s Talk Senior Housing Town Hall

On February 21, 2018, the Cloverdale-Langley City Seniors Group sponsored a Town Hall about Senior Housing Issues. The Town Hall was very successful, more than 150 people attended.

The Town Hall panel was moderated by John Aldag, MP Cloverdale Langley City. The panel members were;

  • BC Seniors Advocate Isobel McKenzie
  • Andrew Middleton, a consultant from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
  • Naomi Brunemeyer, BC Housing’s director of regional development for the Lower Mainland
  • Mike Clay, mayor of Port Moody and chair of the Metro Vancouver Regional District housing committee
  • Adam Vaughan, MP Trinity-Spadina; video link conversation with John Aldag

There was an emphasis on non-profit groups, co-ops, faith-based housing and service providers, realtors, financiers and developers who may be interested in creating affordable housing for seniors in Cloverdale and Langley.

In November, 2017 the Federal Government has allocated Billions of dollars for affordable housing projects in Canada through the National Housing Strategy.  In the February 2018 budget, the BC Provincial Government allocated $1.6 billion for affordable housing.

The panelists described how to access the federal and provincial affordable housing funds.

BC Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie explained the challenges that today’s seniors face in the province’s housing and rental market, noting that “The vast, vast, vast majority of seniors are going to live in their own homes for the rest of their lives.” She noted that as many as 80 per cent of seniors above the age of 65 own their homes. However, Mackenzie said that those senior homeowners still face significant financial challenges. Although home values in the Lower Mainland have tripled to more than $1,000,000, it can be difficult to access that home value. About 30 per cent of senior homeowners are low-income, and major home repairs, medication costs or other unexpected financial challenges can force them to sell their home. There are existing programs, such as the property tax deferment program and the home renovation tax credit, which should be better advertised, and a new program that would allow homeowners to defer home expenses should be created.

Senior renters face greater challenges than homeowners because of long wait lists, shortages of appropriate seniors’ housing in both urban and rural areas, and sky-high rental costs. Mackenzie recommended that BC Housing’s Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters (SAFER) be increased, that awareness of existing subsidies for seniors be promoted and that more appropriate housing for seniors to be constructed within B.C., particularly in rural areas.

The other panelists talked about affordable housing projects and explained how developers can apply for funding at all levels of government; municipal, provincial and federal.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation provides “seed funding” to help cover soft costs during the proposal and development stage of an affordable housing project. BC Housing provides funding to assist with the development or renovation of affordable housing projects.

BC Housing’s Brunemeyer said her organization follows a “community-based model” and that one solution would never fit the entire province. “What works in Langley might not work in Surrey,” she said.

None of the housing projects mentioned in Wednesday’s presentation were within Cloverdale. Although it was emphasized that funds are available for affordable housing development projects at all levels of government, and that there will be units created within Canada and B.C., no new details were given about any projects that would impact Surrey or Langley residents.

The presenters gave a few examples of affordable housing projects in Cloverdale; Langley’s Shepherd of the Valley Church seniors’ housing development and the planned Veteran’s Village in Whalley. These projects are using government funding.

The Federal National Housing Strategy aims to create 12,000 affordable units for seniors in Canada over the next ten years. The 2018 provincial budget, which gave $1.35 billion to BC Housing to fund new housing initiatives over the next three years, includes $922 million to create 28,700 affordable units. Brunemeyer said that more than 14,000 of those new units would be set aside for families and seniors.

Links to the Town Hall Presentations

You can view these videos and PowerPoint slide presentations

  • Video conversation with John Aldag and Adam Vaughan
  • PowerPoint slides from Isobel McKenzie
  • PowerPoint slides from Andrew Middleton
  • PowerPoint slides from Mike Clay
  • PowerPoint slides from Naomi Brunemeyer

Click here to view the video and slides.