There’s an urgent need for affordable and attainable housing options for seniors in the Ottawa area, according to new surveys of Ottawa residents and Realtors. The surveys say municipal policies to address the increasing demand for housing options for elderly residents are needed within the next five years.
The Ottawa Real Estate Board (OREB) recently collaborated with the Ontario Real Estate Association and Nanos Research to conduct the public research. In addition to views on the current housing market’s challenges, the surveys also sought to assess the necessity of creating additional housing options for seniors.
“As Realtors, we heard from our clients that many seniors would prefer to stay in their homes for as long as possible, and many families would choose to have their parents live with them or on their property for as long as feasible,” says OREB president Debra Wright. “However, we also know from experience that there are little to no options which currently exist within the real estate market for this goal to be realized, and that clients are repeatedly asking Realtors to locate affordable senior-friendly options.”
Designed by Nanos Research, a random phone survey of Ottawa residents and an online survey of OREB members found that:
- 80 per cent of Ottawa residents surveyed are concerned or somewhat concerned about affordability, and 72 per cent are concerned or somewhat concerned about the availability of adequate housing for seniors in Ottawa.
- Just over one-third of Ottawa residents surveyed said they (or the seniors they make decisions on behalf of) would require a senior-friendly home within the next five years.
- 56 per cent of the Realtors surveyed said they had difficulty meeting the needs of senior housing (mean score of 7.2 out of 10).
When residents were asked how urgent the priority is for the City of Ottawa to ensure seniors have adequate housing options on a scale of 1 – 10, with 10 being very urgent, 73 per cent of respondents rated it urgent (mean score of 7.7 out of 10).
In the survey, residents supported easing restrictions for secondary suites and coach houses. Realtors made several recommendations to municipal leaders to make it easier to meet the needs of their clients, which included:
- Be more flexible with construction regulations/permits (additions, separate entrances, main floor in-law suites)
- Ease up permit fees/provide funding/incentives/grant
- Make permits/application process faster/easier
- Tax incentives/breaks
- Build/allow coach houses
“The city is going to have to get creative. Our seniors deserve to live their golden years in a manner that respects their privacy, independence and allows them to enjoy a lifestyle that befits their many years contributing to our communities,” says Wright. “We hope this research will assist in educating and mobilizing our community leaders on key issues surrounding housing strategies for our seniors in our region and will lead to informed decision making and existing policy improvement.”