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More details to the Housing the Elderly


Housing the Elderly, a new model that addresses not only the elderly

but also affordability for the younger first time home buyer as well.

By: Chris Jalkotzy and Jean Favreau - 2016-04-18

This document aims to begin a discussion on a new concept for services to the over 92% of the population over 65 who live in private dwellings. 7.9% of people 65 and over currently live in collective dwellings, including 4.5% in nursing homes and hospitals, and 92.1% in private dwellings based on the 2011 census. This group of people has been difficult for the “senior” housing industry to attract mainly because the retirement home and nursing home models for services are antiquated and do not meet the evolving needs and wants of the new retirees.

The market that is targeted by the Seniors and Nursing Residences suppliers is only 8% of the total population over 60 years old. At age 60 to 70, 60% of the population is living in a single-detached home. Between age 70 and 90, 40% is still living in a single-detached residence. Many others are moving in with relatives or other extended family units.

We’ve seen a considerable aging of the population that caused an increase in the need for care. Nursing homes beds are regulated and their numbers has not kept up with the demand for care. Thirty years ago, it was not unusual to see a nursing home resident still driving his own car. Today it is virtually unheard off. The increase in the needs of seniors has displaced seniors with “lighter” care needs to retirement homes to the point where the clientele in retirement homes is now what the nursing home clientele was 20 years ago. You do not move into a retirement home unless you need to, it is almost entirely need based. The average age of people in retirement homes is over 85 years.

Our document focuses on offering homes and services meeting the needs of this population that is not well served in the present model. Typically, a person or couple 65 and over have finished raising their families and are interested in finding a homes with the feel and amenities of their private dwellings, in a similar neighbourhood, somewhat downsized and maybe less expensive. This permits them to unlock some money from their dwelling while remaining owner of their home. At the same time, the added security of a collective dwelling can be attractive as the neighbours will keep an eye on the property while they travel.

The model we have developed addresses many of the reasons why the elderly don’t want to move out of their single family home:

  • They like their neighbourhood and backyard

  • Their friends likely live in the same area

  • Their neighbours have been the same for years and even if they change it is unlikely that this will be disruptive to them

  • There are lots of memories and they can’t image how they would live without all the space.

The model also addresses fears that the elderly have about staying in their single family home or moving into a condo:

  • Uncontrollable increases in the costs of maintenance and utilities while living on a fixed income

  • Not knowing who your neighbour might be if you move into an apartment or condo

  • Special assessment fees if moving into a condo

  • What to do with the house when traveling

  • What do if they can’t drive

  • Inability to travel or help others like family members because all their capital is tied up in their home

  • How will they get health care if their health deteriorates

This concept addresses the above issues through multifunctional buildings that include commercial space on the ground floor, micro-units for sale to the general population on the intermediate floors, and units aimed at the 65 and over population on the top floors. The concept is fully scalable from 6 unit buildings to buildings with 150 or more units.

  1. The top floors for the elderly include:

  2. outside space with individual large terraces big enough for gardening (acts as a backyard)

  3. equity coop ownership so neighbours can be vetted

  4. details such as accessible bathrooms, appropriate backing for grab bars and mechanical lifts where these will likely be used, negative pressure cupboard to reduce odors so people can age in place.

  5. spaces for care givers and in home services (we anticipate that 10 to 15% of the elderly may require significant graduated care)

  6. units that are all on one floor

  7. a design of the units such that a section can become a high care bedroom suite, independently accessed from the hallway. This would allow a surviving partner to continue to live in the building even with significant healthcare requirements.

  8. The floors above the commercial and below the top floors include:

  9. micro affordable units, $120 to $150K, designed for young first time home buyers that want to live in an established neighbourhood

  10. elevators designed so that the owners/renters in the bottom floors cannot access the upper floors.

  11. The complete building would be designed to a high level of sustainability so that increases in operating costs are kept to a minimum with the following:

  12. Durable finishes

  13. Alternative power sources such as solar PV

  14. Highly efficient heating and cooling systems

An added bonus to this approach is the flexibility of ownership for the users and the providers. These could include the following:

  • A provider of services to seniors could own the whole building and rent suites, micro-units and commercial spaces, but it could also partner with a property management company and own only the top three floors.

  • The suites on the top floors could also be sold as a condominium, and only the services provided by the senior services company.

In any case, this model makes the asset more liquid as it becomes easy to sell the units and unlock the capital in the building.


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