Do Centretown Seniors Need Seniors-only Housing?
January 30, 2013Meg McCallumComments 0
I got a call recently from a member of the Seniors Committee of the Centretown Citizens Community Association asking if CCOC would consider building some seniors housing. The population of Centretown is aging. Folk heading into their retirement years are looking for suitable, affordable housing in this community. For the seniors committee, it seems that a good solution would be purpose-built housing for independent seniors. CCOC’s board and staff definitely agree that more affordable housing is needed in Centretown and we’re happy to work on this challenge. But our decades of experience lead us to disagree with the seniors committee on what it should look like.
One of the strengths of CCOC is that the mixed housing model – with a range of unit sizes, incomes and abilities in each building – has the flexibility to accommodate people through various life stages. We have tenants who moved in to bachelor apartments as young adults, settled down and had a family in one of our three bedroom apartments, and then downsized again as their children grew up and moved away. Since most of our apartment buildings include wheelchair accessible units, the entrances and common areas are barrier-free – an element that seniors appreciate. It’s relatively easy to retrofit a bathroom with grab bars, and to add paddle handles to doors and faucets, meaning that someone can age in place in a mixed apartment building, and stay connected to the services, community and social networks they’ve developed over years.
Mixed housing also makes our tenants more resilient to life’s challenges. By having students, seniors, families and singles sharing a place to call home there are lots of ways to support each other. Young and mobile tenants offer to pick up groceries or change a light bulb; seniors help out with babysitting; neighbours get together for potlucks and games nights, and teach each other about gardening or how to change a fuse. Together they learn from each other about their differences and what they have in common.