Cut costs, says housing report

The Greenwood Improvement Society has released a feasibility study that looks into the costs and benefits of a new seniors housing facility.

  • Feb. 4, 2015 11:00 a.m.

An early Christmas present for the Greenwood community arrived on Dec. 22 last year when The Greenwood Improvement Society (TGIS) received the Greenwood Seniors’ Housing Study final report.

The report supports the vision to ultimately build a small supportive housing residence of approximately 20 to 24 units in Greenwood; however, it cautions that building and operating a seniors’ housing complex in Greenwood will only be feasible if the costs can be significantly reduced, either through grants or other strategies to reduce the initial capital costs or through subsidies to reduce monthly operating costs.

The report clearly demonstrates a need. It says that in 2011, more than 30 per cent of Greenwood residents were 65 years of age or older, nearly double the provincial level.

Housing and support options for seniors are typically viewed as a continuum ranging from seniors living independently in their own homes through to residential care facilities (i.e., nursing homes).

Between these two extremes are “supportive housing” and “assisted living accommodation.” There is currently no supportive housing or assisted living accommodation for seniors in Greenwood. When seniors can no longer live safely in their homes, their only choice is to leave their community.

According to the report, as of Dec. 15, 2014, TGIS was aware of six seniors in the area assessed by Interior Health (IH) that required both home support and home care. These individuals would benefit from supportive housing or assisted living accommodation, but they continue to live in Greenwood because they do not want to leave their home community.

The report also raises the concern that, without supportive housing in Greenwood, seniors of Japanese descent will face a second forced relocation in their lifetime.

In 2012, TGIS began to explore the possibility of building a seniors’ housing complex. In July 2014, the society received funding from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation to conduct a needs assessment and preliminary feasibility analysis.

The report was informed by surveys conducted by TGIS in 2012. The majority of survey respondents indicated they wanted to remain in Greenwood as they aged. The two most common reasons given for not wishing to remain in Greenwood were “insufficient health and support services” and “no suitable seniors’ housing.”

The report was written by Margaret Steele, a consultant from Grand Forks who had prepared a similar report for Christina Lake in 2007.

A “ball-park” estimate for the facility comes in at $2.9 million; with monthly expenses per unit estimated at approximately $1,625—an amount beyond the level most Greenwood seniors could afford (the majority of survey respondents indicated they could afford less than $1,250 per month).

The informative report discusses the three general stages (planning, construction and operation) needed to bring the seniors’ housing facility into reality.

The next steps toward the seniors’ facility include forming a planning committee, build capacity and expand knowledge about housing and funding options, continue to build community support and to raise funds and build up equity.

For information contact Fred Marshall at 250-445-6496