New seniors housing in Nanaimo is on the drafting board.
Nanaimo Affordable Housing Society and Mount Benson Senior Citizens Housing Society are seeking development permits for projects that would boost the number of independent living units for seniors in the Harbour City by more than 200.
Within four years, more than 2,700 rental housing units will be needed in the region and 843 subsidized units, according to the Canadian Rental Housing Index. Seniors currently account for 18 per cent of renters and more than half spend more than 30 per cent of their their income on rent, which is above the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporations benchmark for affordability. Another 18 per cent of seniors spend more than half their incomes on rent.
Nanaimo Affordable Housing Society plans to build its first affordable housing complex for seniors, with hopes of increasing the amount of stock available that’s more affordable for people in the community and seniors.
The complex on Buttertubs Drive will be a six-storey, 150-unit building that could get underway next spring and take two years to construct. B.C. Housing announced $8.5 million towards the first phase of the project last year, when it was anticipated to be built in two parts. It will now all happen at once. Final designs are still in the works.
Jim Spinelli, executive director of the affordable housing society, said there’s going to be a shortfall of units for seniors in Nanaimo not too long from now and its project, and that of Mount Benson Seniors, will make a dent.
“There’s going to be a huge need as the population ages,” he said.
As for future projects, Spinelli said the Nanaimo Affordable Housing Society will look for opportunities to build housing for whoever requires it at the time, not just for seniors, but the board will also have to discuss how it moves forward and if it wants the society to keep growing. Its housing stock will go from about 100 to 300 by 2020.
“The government is talking about building 10,000 units a year. Another issue is land, so we’ve already been meeting with the city asking them to look for whatever land they might have available, because a lot of programs require the municipality to put up the land,” said Spinelli, who adds the society is looking at the possibility of buying land so that if a program fits its needs in the future, there’s a place to build.
“The reality is whether it’s senior housing, family housing or housing for singles or staffed housing, we need many, many more units to start to really impact the need in our communities,” he said.
Mount Benson Senior Citizens Society could not be reached for comment, but city documents show it plans to develop a four-storey, 57-unit congregate care facility for seniors on Prideaux Street.