Tell Me More About Seniors' Housing
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Adult Lifestyle Communities
housing is intended to assist seniors who want to live independently but
need someone to help them. The type of assistance needed includes
assistance with activities of daily living (those activities performed
routinely including hygiene, dressing, walking, washing and grooming),
daily visits or telephone reassurance, 24-hour emergency response,
shopping, cooking, meals, transportation and counseling. The services
needed are not as extensive as the medical and nursing care services
offered in long term care homes.
Some non-profit housing providers receive funding from the
Ontario government through the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care to
deliver personal care and supportive services to eligible tenants.
In some situations people are able to access some level of support in
their own homes by contracting directly with various agencies who
provide the support. In supportive housing the support is arranged
through the housing and is connected with the housing.
Types of Supportive Housing Projects
Supportive Housing can be found within any of the
types of seniors housing discussed in this section. A senior may prefer
to live in an apartment building, either a condominium or rental
apartment, that offers supportive services but in which the senior has
his/her own private apartment. Many supportive housing projects offer
common rooms, such as lounges, activity room and dining room to allow
for social interaction and leisure activities.
If the senior prefers to live close to others and still live in their
own home, there are a variety of large dwellings shared by about 10
people, each of whom has some private space. Some examples are
Abbeyfield houses, Special Care Group Home and co-housing. These offer a
mixture of private and common spaces. The private space may include a
bedroom, bathroom and in some cases kitchenettes but the house will also
include some shared space.
The range of supportive services provided by the
housing provider varies from project to project. Housing projects
offering little support service appeal to active, healthy seniors while
older, more frail seniors prefer projects with a larger range of
In some cases, the housing project is associated with a long term
care home with outreach support services; such projects may be part of a
comprehensive continuum of care or a long-term care
‘campus’. As tenants age and their support needs increase,
they may be able to move to the long term care home that is part of
the campus and continue to receive care from the organization with
which they are familiar.
Tenure and Types
These vary depending upon the particular type of seniors’ housing
(see Tenure and Types of dwellings listed under the other housing types
discussed in this section). May be operated as either
not-for-profits or for-profits.
Life Lease Housing
affordable housing for older adults and seniors who have capital
Purchasing a Life Lease Suite
Development of a Life Lease project begins with a
non-profit and/or charitable organization (e.g. housing
corporation, service club, church or ethnic association) which
sponsors the project and oversees both the development and ongoing
management. Ownership of the life lease development remains in the name
of the sponsoring organization.
Applicants who meet the criteria, commonly a minimum age (such as 65
years of age), may purchase the exclusive Right to Occupy the leasehold
suite and use the common areas (lounges, workshops, recreation areas,
parking, etc.). Residents are neither tenants nor owners, but a
combination of the two.
As the sponsoring organization is non-profit, the initial price of a
life lease suite is based on break-even cost plus a reasonable
contribution towards a contingency fund. Residents make an initial
investment towards the construction of the project and upon its
completion, pay the balance of the price of the life lease suite. As
they continue to live in the housing residents pay a monthly occupancy
fee to cover the project’s ongoing operating costs. Although the
leasehold is available for life, residents may sell the Right to Occupy
and, consequently, earn a return on their investment (similar to
condominiums or private homes). The sale price of the life lease may be
based on the market or may be determined by a formula; this varies by
Life lease residents may have the option of purchasing
support services as described under Supportive Housing. Some life lease
projects which are connected with long term care homes may provide some
level of support without charge.
Type of Dwellings
Multi-residential (e.g. townhouses and apartments). Generally, operated
seniors who are in relatively good health but require assistance with
activities of daily living (those activities performed routinely, such
as hygiene, dressing, ambulation, washing and grooming) and who do not
want to live independently.
Retirement homes provide a range of care and
supportive services. Some homes have different levels of care and
services; thus, allowing residents to remain in the retirement home
should their health decline. Retirement homes provide accommodation and
usually provide nursing staff or health care aides for medication
administration and personal care. Generally, they also provide 24 hour
supervision, meals (usually in a common dining room), recreational
activities, laundry and housekeeping services. Monthly costs vary
depending upon the services purchased. Some homes allow extra personal
care services to be purchased from an external agency.
Some retirement homes have respite care for seniors requiring short
term stay as they recover from an illness or to relieve the caregiver or
for vacation care. Note: In 2010 the Government of Ontario passed
the Retirement Homes Act, which will introduce regulations to establish
standards for the care provided in retirement homes.
Types of Dwellings
Varying from houses to high-rise buildings. Residents generally
rent a bedroom or bedsitting room and have access to a range of
common areas. May be operated as either for-profits or
not-for-profits; the second type sometimes have
different kinds of subsidies available.
affordable housing for seniors, families and single people with low to
Types of Social
Non-profit housing is owned and managed by
either municipal housing corporations, accountable to local governments
or private non-profit organizations (such as churches,
seniors’ organizations and ethno-cultural groups).
Co-operative housing is owned and controlled
by the residents, who are voting members and assist with the co-op
operations. Members do not have any individual equity ownership and
cannot sell their units. Co-ops are governed by the residents with an
elected board of directors; there are no outside landlords.
Rent supplement agreements allow low-income
people to access housing in the private sector in which they pay 30% of
their income towards rent; the remaining portion of the rent is paid by
the government to the private landlord.
Housing Allowances are a fixed amount of
subsidy provided to a private landlord to redudce the rent of the person
living in the housing – similar to Rent Supplement, except that
the subsidy is fixed amount, not geared to the resident’s
Rental. Many of the tenants are low-income households paying 30% of
their income on rent while others are moderate-income households paying
High-rise buildings, houses or rooming houses, mid-rise buildings,
low-rise buildings, townhouses. Non-profit housing and co-operative
housing are operated as not-for-profits and the rent
supplement agreements are made with for-profit
Access to Social Housing
Social housing is administered by 47 " Municipal
Service Managers, often "upper-tier municipalities" like counties or
regional municipalities. The Service Managers are responsible for funding and administration of all
social housing. As well, the Service Managers are responsible for
managing "Social Housing Coordinated Access" centres for households
wanting access to social housing in their community. For information on
how to access the waiting list in your community contact the "Social
Housing Coordinated Access" in your community or call your local
municipal office and ask to connect to the Service Manager for your
Funding and Administration of Social
Rental housing, including housing
specifically targeted for seniors, is not financially viable in the
current housing market unless some form of subsidy is provided. Since
the mid 1970's a significant amount of rental housing was built with
financial support from the federal, provincial and municipal levels of
government. From 1995 to the early years of the new millennium, very
little new rental housing was built in Ontario. In April 2005 an
agreement was reached between the federal and provincial governments,
which has seen a significant increase in the new supply of
affordable rental housing. “Affordable housing” developed
since 2005 is unlike the social housing developed prior to 1995.
Most rents are set at 80% of the market rent for similar housing in the
In housing developed prior to 1995 some portion of the housing is made
available for low-income households (including seniors) on a
rent-geared-to-income basis (RGI). In RGI housing, eligible households
are selected from waiting lists maintained by the municipal government.
The rent paid by the household is calculated based on 30% of the total
household income from all sources.
Adult Lifestyle Communities
Geared towards retirees or near-retirees who have the ability to live
completely independently and who prefer to live among their peers in a
lively and active community offering amenities, including recreation and
sports homes (e.g. tennis, golf and hiking). Residents of adult
lifestyle communities may be at different stages of their lives; some
continue to work, some volunteer, some are busy all day while others
prefer a slower pace. Most properties are located outside the Greater
Toronto Area (GTA).
Condominium, freehold, rental, land-lease, life-lease
Types of Dwellings
Detached bungalows, semi-detached houses, townhouses, apartments.