Thursday, March 17, 2016

How to create accessible, affordable, and adaptable housing for people of all ages

Yesterday, I posted some of the key findings from a recently released survey about the current state of seniors housing in Langley. The survey was created by the Triple A Seniors Housing Workgroup. This workgroup includes members from the Langley Seniors Community Action Table, Langley Seniors Resource Centre, and the local chapter of CARP.

The workgroup also put on a seniors housing summit in the fall of 2014. They hosted speakers from organizations such as BC Housing, SPARC, CMHC, and local municipalities. Insights gleaned from the summit; recommendations on how to deliver affordable, accessible, and adaptable housing; plus case studies of the recommendations have been complied into a newly released report.

The list of recommendations from the Triple A Seniors Housing Workgroup report are as follows:


  1. Hire a social planner who, in consultation with a Seniors Advisory Committee, will advise and make recommendations for age-friendly policy, with the explicit goal of increasing affordable, accessible, and adaptable housing options for seniors and other members of the community. Among other duties, the social planner should also function as the dedicated Affordable Housing Coordinator to guide all affordable (and subsidized) housing projects to completion.
  2. Adopt Abbotsford’s Harmony Flex-housing model: adaptable and accessible low-income home ownership through housing agreements, with accessible secondary suites for seniors and persons-with-disability. Require minimum 10-25% of housing developments to subscribe to this policy.
  3. Pursue Demonstration Housing Projects through partnerships with the Provincial Government, BC Housing, CMHC, and developers, as a means to create affordable, accessible, and appropriate senior housing.
  4. Engage with Metro Vancouver Housing Corporation with a view to taking advantage of its recently expanded role in increasing the supply of mixed-income housing regionally, especially for seniors in The Langleys.
  5. Conduct an audit of existing purpose-built rental stock, and existing subsidized housing with reference to housing which is accessible and adaptable for senior occupants (following Burnaby’s profile), and flagging economic end of life to facilitate planning for maintenance, renovation, or potential redevelopment.
  6. Collaborate actively with senior levels of government to evaluate, maintain, and preserve existing affordable housing stock that meets the needs of low-income seniors.
  7. Establish comprehensive development zone guides which specify Inclusionary Zoning Policies, prescribing a percentage of affordable, accessible, and appropriate senior housing within market developments.
  8. Create an Affordable Housing Reserve Fund for development, maintenance, and preservation of affordable senior housing stock.
  9. Conduct a municipal land audit to flag land which might be made available (donated, sold below-market, leased) or utilized for affordable, accessible and appropriate senior housing (i.e. decommissioned or unused or surplus school sites, church property).
  10. Educate developers and citizens demonstrating innovative below-market rental and home ownership models to encourage early adoption and implementation.
  11. Monitor progress of affordable and adaptable housing policies, specifying senior housing options, and publishing in the annual report.
  12. Encourage and support developers and builders to include adaptable/inclusive features in new home construction.
  13. Institute or revise Adaptable Housing Policy to reflect future need due to the projected increase of aging residents and consequent mobility challenges.


  1. Take steps to support the preservation and enhancement of existing Manufactured Home Parks by conducting an economic and social analysis in order to create baseline information.
  2. As a Municipal member of the SAFERhome Standards Society, collaborate with prospective developers, SAFERhome Standards Society, and the Homeowner Protection Office (a Branch of BC Housing), to initiate a universal design pilot project.

The recommendations in the report primarily deal with affordable, accessible, and adaptable housing. Missing from the list of recommendations from the Triple A Seniors Housing Summit was about what to do outside of the home. An affordable, accessible, and adaptable home is great, but the built-form of Langley must also be accessible for people of all ages and abilities. This is why building a walkable community is so critical to ensuring that people can have fulfilling lives no matter their means or abilities. It’s no surprise that Downtown Langley has a higher than average seniors population because of its walkability.

Some of the joint recommendations would be more relevant to the Township of Langley, especially around new development. In the City of Langley, emphases needs to be placed on ensuring that the existing affordable housing stock remains affordable, is made more accessible, and is in a state of good repair.

Both the City and Township of Langley need to consider the recommendations in this report. Please check out the full report for more information.

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