Guest Blog: Housing and Older Adults

By Garth Brown

Many older homeowners, particularly those on fixed incomes, find themselves house rich but struggle to pay the costs of rising taxes, utilities, food and other needs. In Halton Region over 20% of seniors live alone. That increases to over 50% at the age of 85. Maintaining a property can become challenging as the years progress. Mobility in and around the home can also become a challenge.

garth chartMeanwhile, due to unfortunate and sometimes unpredictable circumstances, other individuals, couples and families find themselves applying for Rent Geared to Income (RGI) housing. According to The Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association 2014 Wait List Survey report, 1,207 seniors are currently waiting for RGI housing.

The wait can be up to five years due to lack of affordable rental units in Oakville, Burlington, Milton and beyond. Studies confirm that older adults living alone are at greater risk of social isolation and loneliness.

Recognizing the needs of both groups above, municipalities including Burlington, Oakville and Milton have passed by-laws allowing the construction of legal apartments in existing detached homes. Creating an apartment within a home means a homeowner can generate rental income from their property (over $1,000 per month for a one bedroom unit, $1,300 for a two bedroom unit and over $1,500 for a three bedroom unit) while gaining valuable support with home maintenance, added security and socialization opportunities. Best of all, those on the wait list can be served by this new housing stock!

The costs of creating a legal apartment can range from $20,000 to $40,000 depending on the nature of the project. The return on the investment through rental income, tax deductions and increased home equity provides a strong financial motivation for homeowners to re-purpose part of their home or property they hardly ever use. Knowing you have helped provide safe, secure and affordable housing for someone in need is priceless!

About the blogger
Garth Brown, an affordable housing advocate in Oakville, has created a company called Egality that provides full consultation and construction services to create legal apartments within detached homes. For more information contact Garth Brown at




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