The Other Affordable Housing

Affordable Housing is the topic of the day in most communities and tends to focus on the homeless population, and rightly so.  I would argue that for most of this population it is not affordable housing, it is safe housing so that they can get other needs met with other services and move forward with their lives.

There are the working homeless, those in entry level positions who can’t find accommodation, or, if they find it, can’t afford it.  Over my years of employment counselling, I saw many people who were in this situation and were either living in their vehicle, if they were lucky enough to have one, or couch surfing with friends and acquaintances.

There are also those who are living on the edge, the ones who are existing, living in cheap accommodations that wouldn’t pass many standards.  These are the fragile ones who only need one thing to go wrong, and they will lose what little safety they have and find themselves on the street and not everyone can survive on the street.

Parents are finding that children are not leaving home like they used to because they can’t find or afford to go out on their own.  New apartments close to where we live are priced so that you should be making over $3000 a month in order to live there if you go by the 30% rule.

One area that is not considered when affordable housing is talked about is the baby boomers.  It definitely is not as important as the other affordable housing issues but, nonetheless, it affects lifestyle and perhaps the health of seniors.

I’m referring to the lack of 1200 square foot ranchers.  We are active seniors and we have a nice home but would like to downsize and be in a smaller house all on one floor.  We don’t want a condo as we like a vegetable garden and I like to have a small shop.  If we find this in Nanaimo, it is not located near the amenities, and we would have to take out a $100,000 mortgage to buy it!

What is causing this unrealistic situation?  Is it the stringent building codes?  Development cost charges?  Land prices?  Is it developers not reading the market?  I have talked to many seniors and they have experienced the same issues.  They want to move and remain active, but their only choice is a condo, not a single-family dwelling offering the lifestyle that they want.  The demand for this type of housing is only going to increase as we are just at the start of the boomers!

I wonder 15 – 20 years down the road, who will be buying these large, expensive homes that are being built today.  Unless wages rise at the same rate as housing prices, it won’t be the young families in our community!

Affordable housing means different things to different people, but one thing is certain, today it doesn’t exist for many!

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