Letters to the Editor: Affordable Housing for Seniors

I am writing to inquire about the issue of affordable housing for those seniors who retire or are about to retire, are in good health but need to scale back on expenses and upkeep typically associated with home ownership. For example, I am 65, currently semi-retired and own my own home. My wife and I are looking at selling our house and investing the equity in dividend generating holdings. We plan to use the additional investment income to offset the higher cost of renting an apartment.

In PEI where we live, an 1100 sq. ft. apartment rents for around 1400 a month. I did a cost comparison (home ownership versus rental) and renting actually costs more per annum than remaining in our current home. The issue, of course, in renting an apartment, is not having to do the upkeep and maintenance on home, while living on one floor with accessibility.

We have talked to my son-in-law about building either a granny-suite or a small 1000 sq. ft. bungalow on their property. They would mortgage the construction and we would pay them rent commensurate with paying off the mortgage over a 10 year period (roughly equivalent to monthly rental costs for an apartment). They have 5 children and might have trouble getting the financing. They would also have to declare the rent as income and incur higher property taxes.

It would be a great help if the government were to assist in deferring rental income taxes, or assisting in construction loans for qualified families seeking to provide affordable housing to retired parents. I think this addresses a GAP between those needing “elder care” and those seeking affordable housing as a family unit. I would be interested to know what if anything is being done or proposed in this area.

On a side note, when inquiring locally with builders about developing 55+ adult living communities I am told that it is illegal; a human rights issue to develop for a specific demographic. Consequently, there is no “affordable housing option” until seniors become eligible for group homes or assisted-care living unless they buy mobile homes or half-duplexes on their own. We have looked at this and decided against it for a number of reasons, not the least of which is living in neighbourhoods with very young families with all the incumbent noise and activity.

With the aging demographic significantly on the increase, I would think this warrants a legislative look, as many retired boomers can live unassisted for 10-20 years and are seeking affordable housing that meeting their reduced levels of income and needs.

Keywords: retirement, housing, elder, income, taxes