Langley volunteers are behind Triple A Seniors Housing.

Seniors need better housing: volunteer committee reports

A group of volunteer seniors have released an ambitious report on housing.

Langley seniors are calling on all levels of government and builders to do more to ensure affordable, accessible and appropriate housing.

Local seniors, through the Triple A Housing Society, have released their recommendations on the future of seniors’ housing in Langley and are urging action as the number of older Canadians grows in the coming years.

But the report is not the end of their work. Triple A will be providing the report to the partner groups  (Langley Community Seniors Action Table, Langley Seniors Resource Society and CARP, Chapter 48), all elected officials representing Langley, all local agencies concerned about senior housing, all local libraries for access by the public.

“As well, we plan on making presentations to Mayors and Council of both the City and Township of Langley urging action on our recommendations,” said Triple A chair Marilyn Fischer.

Langley Township and City should have planners with expertise in age-friendly housing and planning, the group recommends.

The City needs to create a plan to redevelop its existing rental stock to meet safety and accessibility standards. That would mean, for instance, mandating sprinklers in older buildings.

“We also plan to advocate with planners and developers to extend their knowledge of the readiness of the boomer market for accessible/universally designed housing as they plan for aging-in-place,” Fischer said. “The former resistance of the development community to target  this market was largely based on increased building costs.”

She said that myth has been debunked by the reality of Home Owner’s Protection Office pilot project in Chilliwack, which is included in the Triple A report.

The Langley group wants the municipalities to designate more housing, citing Abbotsford’s Harmony Flex-housing as a model. It creates adaptable and accessible low-income home ownership through housing agreements, with accessible secondary suites for seniors and persons-with-disability. The recommendation calls for a minimum of 10-25 per cent of housing to meet these criteria.

Other recommendations include creating projects in partnership with the likes of the B.C. government, BC Housing, CMHC, and developers, as a means to create affordable, accessible, and appropriate senior housing.

Triple A wants the City and Township to lobby other levels of government to ensure there are sufficient assisted living spaces for those who can no longer live independently.

And the group recommends “City of Langley’s Crime Prevention Task Force continues its vigorous efforts to address safety concerns.”

The recommendations arise from the group’s many months of research as well as summits to gather input from residents and experts.

“The lack of affordable, accessible and appropriate housing options for seniors in the Langleys has implications for the success of other important community initiatives,” Fischer explained.

As an example of the broader implications of not having affordable, accessible and appropriate housing, seniors who can’t stay in their homes for lack of simple amenities or changes can end up in assisted living care or hospital.

She noted that 15 per cent of homeless people are seniors and they are a growing segment of those going to social assistance agencies or organizations. As housing costs rise, the number of homeless seniors is also expected to go up.

Triple A has a meeting in May to continue to work on these issues, determined not to let this become a report that sits on the shelf.

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Triple a Senior Housing Summit Report 2015

Survey findings show that the gross income of 47% Langley seniors is less than $30,000, 75% of whom spend more than 30% of it on shelter! Triple A (Affordable, Accessible, Appropriate) Senior Housing has released two reports that focus on housing for seniors in The Langleys. One is based on the results of a paper and online survey and the other is a report on a very successful Senior Housing Summit “ACTING NOW: Housing for our Aging Population”,  held in September 2014.  The reports contain recommendations to all the Mayor and Council of  the City and Township of Langley.  Provincial MLAs and Federal MPs have also been challenged to champion support to enable local officials to respond to these recommendations. The reports were generated by Triple A Senior Housing and a working group of seniors. The need to address seniors housing requirements was first identified at a meeting of the Langley Community Seniors Action Table (LCSAT).  In the spring of 2013, a group of passionate seniors including representatives from the Canadian Association of Retired Persons (CARP), the Langley Seniors Resource Society and LSCAT come together to explore this need.  A decision was made to work to further the development and preservation of housing options for seniors in the City and Township of Langley. In November 2013 a half-day workshop entitled ‘Searching for Solutions to Senior’s Housing Concerns’ was held and the paper and online survey was launched. Among its findings the Langley Senior Housing Survey Report shows that an astonishing 75% of Langley seniors who live on an income below $30,000 spend more than 30% on shelter. In addition, 36% of respondents indicated that their housing is not meeting current mobility needs. The second report focuses on the Triple A Senior Housing Summit:  “ACTING NOW: Housing for Our Aging Population” held in September 2014. This report is comprehensive and presents ‘made in Langley ‘ recommendations that are representative of relevant policies and strategies gleaned from presentations made by developers, representatives from Canada Mortgage and Housing, BC Housing, their non-profit partners and summit participants. Among its recommendations this report calls for the preservation of existing rental stock by renovations and upgrades to current safety and accessibility standards. In addition, it requests the municipal governments to lobby BC Housing, the Ministry of Health and the Fraser Health Authority to take action to respond to the majority of older adults in The Langleys to ensure an adequate number of assisted living units and regulated services will be available to provide housing and care in their community when seniors are no longer able to live independently. Both reports have been sent to the three levels of government with recommendations to avoid a crisis in the senior housing market.  Many of the recommendations are in line with stated goals of the municipal governments of the Township and City, so Triple A Senior Housing is optimistic that the recommendations will add impetus to future planning and policy development regarding affordable, accessible and appropriate housing for seniors in The Langleys.

-#####-For more information, contact Marilyn C. Fisher, BSW, Chair,

Triple A Senior Housing at 778-878-5369

KEY FINDINGS

Affordability is a large concern for the majority of respondents in the low-income range.

52 % of all respondents indicated that they spent more than 30 percent of their gross household income on housing costs.

75 % of those in the $30,000 or less income range spend over 30 percent of their household income on accommodations.

In the $0-$40,000.00 group, 67 % find themselves in the same boat.

Seniors in our community are ‘making ends meet’ by cutting back on the necessities of life.

215 people overall indicated they cut back on living costs such as food and prescriptions giving housing a spending priority, perhaps to avoid eviction and homelessness.

34 %of those with income of $30,000 or less cut back on these expenses.

The need for accessible housing is a priority of many residents as they look forward to aging in place and their health and mobility changes.

37 % of survey respondents indicated personal limitations that might affect where they live, the majority being mobility related.

Seniors in our community are not accessing financial supports designed to assist low-income renters and homeowners to provide for their housing needs.

Only 42 out of 517 reported receiving government assistance for housing with about half naming SAFER as the source.

Community Preference

Many respondents would prefer to remain in their present community as they age and, regardless of income, they are hoping to move to assisted living when they are no longer able to live independently.

 

RECOMMENDATION

Triple A Senior Housing recommends that:

1. The City and Township of Langley, along with planners, developers and architects move forward with an age-friendly focus to create more universally accessible and affordable housing (both rental and ownership models) to meet the housing needs of seniors of all ages, financial means, abilities and mobility levels, and:

a) In conjunction with the goals and objectives of its Affordable Housing Strategy, the City of Langley move forward to institute policy and plans to address the need for renovation or redevelopment of existing rental stock to meet current safety (i.e. sprinklers) and accessibility standards.

b)   In conjunction with the goals and objectives of its Housing Action Plan, the Township of Langley move forward to institute policy and plans to preserve and improve existing rental housing and increase the supply of affordable rental housing for seniors.

2. Stronger and more coordinated efforts should be made by Provincial, City and Township governments and senior-serving organizations in The Langleys to promote programs (i.e. SAFER and HAFI) providing financial aid for housing to low-income seniors and, if required, to provide assistance with the application process.

3. The City and Township of Langley lobby BC Housing, the Ministry of Health and the Fraser Health Authority to take action to respond to the wishes of the majority of older adults in The Langleys, especially Aldergrove, by ensuring that an adequate number of assisted living units and

regulated services will be available to meet their care needs when they are no longer able to live     independently.

4.  That the City of Langley’s Crime Prevention Task Force continues its vigorous efforts to address safety concerns, some of which were expressed by seniors in survey comments.

 

Triple a Senior Housing Summit Report 2015

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