Demand for affordable seniors housing outstrips supply in St. John’s

Need for seniors housing will keep growing: report
DanielDaniel MacEachernPublished on March 05, 2015

Demand for affordable seniors housing outstrips supply and the problem will likely get worse, according to a report from St. John’s and the province.

The seniors housing research project grew out of a survey in 2012 that identified housing as seniors’ top concern, and last year St. John’s city council set a goal of creating 500 homes with funding partners by 2017, a fifth of those “age-friendly” homes.

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“We’re going to have about 28 per cent of our city being over the age of 60 in 2035. That’s a big chunk that are going to be living on a very fixed income,” said Coun. Bernard Davis, chairman of the city’s community services and housing committee, which reviewed the report at a meeting in late February.

Davis added the study found the average income of seniors in the city is $24,540.

“That’s not a lot to find accommodations in the city, that historically has a very high cost to find housing.”

Davis says the report’s recommendations “dovetail very nicely” with the plan the city approved last year, such as forming public-private partnerships for developments to make them affordable, including smaller units for seniors looking to downgrade from larger homes after children have moved out.

“Let’s call a spade a spade: seniors want to age at home,” he said. “If there’s a way for them to do that and afford to stay in their home, they would prefer that. They also prefer seniors-only housing.”

The city hopes to appeal to developers by making a business case to developers by noting that 75 per cent of available residential land is zoned for single-family homes.

“There’s a target market there for this aging demographic that is going to need affordable housing, and not just a little bit. There’s going to be a lot of it required,” he said. “So building more affordable options for seniors is a key piece.”

By the numbers

• 20 — percentage of St. John’s population above the age of 60 today

• 28 — percentage of population forecast to be older than 60 in 2035

• 75 — percentage of land zoned for single-family homes

• $24,450 — average income of seniors in St. John’s

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