At our last retirement planning meeting, the most popular topic was affordable housing.
I’m a firm believer of a wrap-around approach to support low-income seniors as they age. It’s becoming more obvious that affordable, safe and pleasant independent apartment living will be out of reach for seniors with a basic retirement income of $1,450.00 per month. They are at risk of being homeless. House-sharing seems like an obvious solution but there are big “ifs” involved.
It’s great “if” the homeowner is a decent, patient, fair and respectful person. It’s great “if” the renter is maintaining a acceptable standard of courtesy, hygiene and agreeableness. House mates need to be compatible, flexible and willing to compromise. A great deal of open and honest communication is needed to minimize the risks involved with home sharing for both the homeowner and the renter. If a match doesn’t work, the renter will be at a greater disadvantage and faced with the harsh reality of another move, while the homeowner will stay put.
Calgary’s HomeSHARE program managers actively seek suitable participants and suggests matches based on compatibility and needs. Participants decide if the match is right for them and what it should look like. The program offers a formal method of HomeSharing, providing screening and written agreements.
The best option, in my opinion, involves a community effort to establish one or several non-profit homes – similar to sorority or frat houses for retirees. A home manager is hired to prepare one meal a day and check on the residents similar to the Abbeyfield model.
More options will be discussed on May 15th 7pm at the Beacock Library Branch in London Ontario. I’m looking forward to it. Join in.