Sudbury Chapter: Lack of affordable homes puts the squeeze on some seniors

Click here to read ‘Lack of affordable homes puts the squeeze on some seniors‘ by Jonathan Migneault – Northern, November 23, 2015

For many seniors, access to safe and affordable housing surpasses health care as their main concern, say the Canadian Association for Retired Persons (CARP) and Friendly to Seniors.

Both organizations hosted a seniors housing forum last week that packed a large room at Sudbury’s ParkSide Centre with people interested in learning more about local housing options. Those who attended were also looking to share their concerns.

“I wasn’t surprised by the turnout,” said Hugh Kruzel, chair of the CARP Sudbury chapter. “It’s almost a perfect storm.”

That perfect storm, he said, comes from a generation that bought larger homes for their families in the 1960s and 1970s, and now finds those same homes too big and inaccessible as they age.

“Suddenly people are in homes that are larger than they expect,” Kruzel said.

Participants at the meeting were encouraged to fill out a survey outlining their housing needs and to share their wishlists for services in Sudbury.

Many said there was a need in Sudbury for lower-priced small homes and for accessible apartments priced at $1,500 or less a month, including utilities.

For people on low incomes, subsidized housing was also a priority.

Friendly to Seniors chair John Lindsay spoke with a 79-year-old woman who told him she had to return to work, cleaning people’s homes, after her rent jumped from $600 a month to $1,100 a month.

“That’s a segment that really needs to be looked at,” Lindsay said.

Laura Higgs, executive officer with the Sudbury and District Homebuilders Association, said seniors don’t make up a big proportion of new home buyers in Sudbury.

“It’s our experience that they’re mostly renovating their homes,” she said.

Those renovations can range from adding accessible bathtubs, to replacing stairs with ramps, widening hallways to make them more accessible for wheelchairs, and lowering kitchen islands, to also make them more accessible.

Other jobs are more simple, Higgs said, and include replacing doorknobs with levers, and lowering light switches.

Higgs and many of the association’s members attended the meeting.

“We thought it was informative,” she said. “More information is always helpful for our members.”

Both CARP and Friendly to Seniors have said last week’s meeting was meant to get the ball rolling on issues related to seniors housing and raise more awareness around the concerns and needs of older Canadians in the housing and rental markets.