Delta seniors weigh in on housing needs

Survey shows most seniors are satisfied with their current housing situation, but a significant number have challenges with affordability.

A comprehensive survey of Delta seniors on housing issues indicates that most are satisfied with their current situation.

However, a significant number of respondents indicate that they have challenges with affordability. There are also concerns about supply. Of those filling out the survey, very few are utilizing home care services of any kind.

These responses indicate that there are many challenges ahead.

Just under 500 people who are 55 and over filled out the survey earlier this year. There are 26,000 seniors in Delta, with 12,000 of them living in North Delta. In North Delta, 23.5 per cent of the population is aged 55 and over.

The survey was compiled by the Delta Seniors Planning Team.

Of those surveyed, almost 43 per cent indicated that the housing they need is not available. This is particularly true of small rental properties, such as one-bedroom apartments, and the need is most acute in South Delta.

More than half (51 per cent) said they are planning to move within the next five years. When coupled with the survey finding that 43 per cent said the housing they need isn’t available, this indicates some significant challenges lie ahead for many of those who wish to move.

When it comes to future living choices, 68 per cent want to stay in their own community, while 56 per cent wish to own their houses. Twenty-nine per cent wish to be closer to family members. More than 13 per cent said it is very important that they be able to rent in the future, indicating there is a trend among people downsizing not wishing to have ownership responsibilities.

There are well-publicized challenges in the Greater Vancouver housing market, and affordability is at the top of the list for many people.

While 58 per cent said their housing is affordable, 36 per cent said it was not affordable or barely affordable.

Two-thirds of those surveyed are concerned about their finances lasting.

The survey concludes that all three levels of government need to endorse an affordable housing strategy, and that future housing should be built using Universal SaferHome standards, which are guidelines for home design that allow for aging in place, without the need to move.

The planning team also recommends that more new housing be built with a “village” concept in mind housing that is age-friendly and more oriented to socializing, walking and access to shops and services.

It also recommends that there be more partnerships with the federal and provincial governments and organizations that serve seniors to concentrate on building more subsidized housing in Delta.

Here are some other facts from the survey:

• Of those surveyed, 17 per cent were renters and 17 per cent still have mortgages.

• Most of those filling out the survey (72 per cent) were under 75, which partially explains the small number using home care services.

• Most were female.

• More than 70 per cent of respondents live in their own single-family home or in a suite within such a home.

• Another 23 per cent live in townhouses, condos or apartments.

• Forty-one per cent of those responding are from North Delta.

Seniors will have the opportunity to get more details on the survey at a seniors town hall meeting on Thursday, Nov. 10 in Ladner.

Delta MP Carla Qualtrough will give a progress report on the federal campaign initiatives for seniors at the meeting, taking place from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Ladner Community Centre.

The meeting will also feature Isobel McKenzie, B.C. seniors advocate who is mandated by the provincial government to monitor seniors’ services, issues and make recommendations to government and service providers. She will present information on resources, projects and the issues facing seniors. B.C. is the only province in Canada with a seniors advocate.

Author, columnist and Delta resident Ian Robertson will be the master of ceremonies for the meeting, a non-partisan event hosted by the Delta Liberal Elders committee with the support of the Senior Liberals Commission of Canada in B.C.

A question-and-answer segment will follow the presentations. Resource info and copies of the BC Seniors’ Guide and Seniors’ Services Handbook will also be available.