We read an article recently about a cohousing initiative that had come to fruition in the United Kingdom after 18 years of planning and design. While the model is a little different from what we talk about here at Golden Girls Canada, the crux of that initiative remains the same as the principles which guide us and that is, that “kind, loving neighbours who really want to connect with and support each other are the heart of cohousing.” (1) We couldn’t agree more. Whether you are living in a development geared to seniors or looking to embrace the shared housing style of living, sharing space with kind and loving folks who often become like our second family, is truly at the heart of what makes the shared housing concept successful.
June is “Seniors Month” and we here at Golden Girls Canada (Golden HomeSharing Connections) think this makes it the ideal time to talk more about how the shared housing movement is growing. With seniors already outnumbering children and with this differential predicted to continue rising exponentially, it is more than time we start focusing on alternative housing solutions for aging baby boomers. The 2016 Census (*all figures Canadian) showed that we are experiencing a “generational shift” the likes of which we have never seen. Essentially, “population aging has accelerated, and the pace of aging will continue to be quite rapid in the coming years because these very large cohorts of boomers will continue to hit age 65 up until 2031.” (2) By that time, statistics suggest that almost 1 out of 4 Canadians will be age 65 or older. These facts should concern both seniors and the population as a whole because the economic and social impact of this aging population will be widespread.
In terms of housing for example, we already know that some communities are experiencing an actual housing crisis. In one local Town, close to the place Golden Girls calls home, current statistics show that more than 70% of the available single-family dwellings are owned by seniors, many of whom can no longer manage their property or even basic in-home maintenance. These seniors, according to one Toronto Star article, would be considered “over-housed” but because there is nowhere for them to go, they aren’t downsizing and new families can’t move in to the community. As a result, social service agencies are seeing a spike in requests for senior support services while local businesses can’t make ends meet because young families aren’t moving in and using the power of their purchasing dollar to help support “buying local.” Recreation services, property taxes, developers who build new homes and schools – everything is impacted by how well (or how poorly) we manage the growth, and housing, of our senior population.
Shared housing offers affordable and effective solutions to the looming senior housing crisis. Right now, some sources quote as many as five million spare bedrooms are sitting empty in Ontario alone. This means an enormous amount of potentially affordable living space is going to waste. Golden Girls Canada seeks to rectify that by providing a service that enables both those who have a home to share and those that are looking for an affordable space, to find one another. We invite you to visit our website where we explain how our service works. While we don’t actually do the matching (we’re not like a match-making service after all!) we do provide the forum and the opportunity for you to find other like-minded people who are searching for affordable housing options.
At Golden Girls Canada we already know that sharing a space is economical, environmentally friendly, and as the first article we quoted suggests, helps to reduce alienation and isolation. It’s an idea “whose time has come” and moving forward, it’s imperative that governments (both local municipalities and federal and provincial bodies) along with independent service providers like ours, all work together to ensure that the continued support of shared housing initiatives doesn’t take (like our friends in the UK experienced) as many as 18 years to develop!
Golden Girls Canada is owned and operated by Golden HomeSharing Connections
Home-mate matching services for seniors by accredited
seniors real estate specialist (SRES) Dorothy Mazeau!