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What We Heard Reports

Four workshops. One open house.

The Housing Solutions Lab engaged older adult homeowners, service providers, municipal staff, elected officials and community members through a series of workshops and a public open house.  

Below is a summary of the themes that participants shared regarding a potential pilot program that matches home seekers with home providers, including what would make a program appealing, and questions they might have along the way. 

“Home sharing has been wonderful, sometimes it can be 3 or 4 days without seeing them but feels good to know they are there. When my husband went in for surgery it felt reassuring.” “Home sharing is 24 hours a day. It’s a lot different than just a few hours a day for social interaction.”

Common themes, concerns and possible solutions suggested by participants:

  • Some participants expressed preference for private spaces, discomfort with sharing space with non-family members and safety concerns for opening their home
  • Possible solutions suggested by participants:  
        • A matchmaking program that screens home seekers and home providers, and allows the home provider and home seeker to meet before entering an agreement
        • Emergency options, safety measures and contingency plans for worst case scenarios
        • Secondary suites and coach houses can offer more privacy and autonomy
Two older adults sitting on a bench with a speech bubble saying “Everyone values privacy but if you value it too much, you might not have a home. There are sacrifices that we have to make.”
Participant, Open House Report
  • Some participants stated fears regarding the landlord-home seeker relationship. Would they get along? Some were also hesitant to lifestyle changes if they opted for home sharing 
  • Possible solutions suggested by participants:  
        • Arranging meet ups between the potential home seekers and home providers before entering an agreement 
        • A trial period (however, we note this causes a lack of security for home seekers who are often seeking for a minimum of a one-year contract to consider moving) 
An older adult with a speech bubble saying “I have a house, but I don’t want anyone else in it. I know it’s selfish.”
Participant, Open House Report
  • Some participants shared feelings of financial stress associated with increased costs of living, unchanging social income rates and a lack of affordable housing  
  • Secondary suites and coach/laneway houses come with high costs and can take a long time to set up
  • Possible solutions suggested by participants:  
        • Financial support or extra incentives might help improve financial feasibility of creating secondary suites or coach/laneway houses feasible. For example, government support through forgivable loans, competitive rent income to recuperate renovation costs and tax deductions on rental income for below-market rates 
Participants, Open House Report
  • Some homeowners were intimidated by the idea of being a landlord mostly due to all of the legal responsibilities and uncertainty liability   
  • Possible solutions suggested by participants:  
        • A third-party matchmaking program could make adopting these housing solutions easier by educating home providers and seekers about their responsibilities, and administration of legal agreements
A woman quoted saying “One thing I think about with wanting to rent to a senior is that I have stairs and I’m worried about the liability. What if they fall down the stairs and sue me?”
Participant, Co-Design Workshop Report
  • Some participant homeowners felt ready to create coach/laneway houses or secondary suites, but found they ran into barriers like restrictive zoning bylaws and high expenses with complying to local building codes. Some mentioned the permit approval processes are confusing and frustrating
  • Possible solutions suggested by participants:  
        • Municipalities could streamline their approval processes and provide easy-to-understand guides for implementation, along with a resource person to support adherence to municipal requirements
A couple with a speech bubble saying “[We] spent months on an application only to find out [our] property was not eligible for a coach/laneway house. These increased levels of frustration deter many from pursuing these options further.”
Participants, Open House Report

For more detail on what participants said, check out the what we heard reports from each engagement session:  

For more detail on the delivery and design of the Housing Solutions Lab’s engagement workshops, visit the Engagement Workshops page.

a neighbourhood made up of single-detached houses