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Housing Options for Seniors

By: Theresa Pugh

Published On: October 31, 2014

There are many different types of housing options available to older adults in British Columbia ranging from non-profit or subsidized rental housing, to assisted living. The Seniors Housing Directory of BC describes many of the options listed below.

Independent Housing

Non-profit/Subsidized Rental Housing
Seniors non-profit or subsidized housing is affordable rental housing for individuals over 55 years of age with low incomes. Rent is subsidized by the government or another source, and is normally set at 30% of income. Generally (though not always) there are no services provided and the apartment units are small bachelor suites. There are long waitlists for subsidized housing so it is important to apply early.

BC Housing Buildings
BC Housing is a crown corporation of BC, and it owns and operates many subsidized buildings in the province. To apply for a BC Housing building you must get on their centralized applicant database (the “Housing Registry”) by filling out a BC Housing Application at

Co-op Housing

This type of housing is not just for older adults and varies in cost. There may be some subsidies available in Co-ops, however they are jointly owned and thus you must pay a refundable share purchase when entering Co-op housing. You must also contribute a certain amount of time to the running of the co-op. Contact

Purchased Housing

This is housing for older adults only with various tenure options such as Strata titled, Life Lease, Equity Co-op and Co-housing options.

Supportive Housing

Housing for older adults only. Generally includes at least one meal a day, emergency response system, housekeeping and social and recreational opportunities. This housing option is usually private (not subsidized), though there are a few subsidized supportive housing units available through BC Housing's Seniors Supported Housing (SSH) program. Contact BC Housing.

Assisted Living

Housing for older adults; includes meal services, emergency response system, housekeeping, social and recreational opportunities with additional assistance with personal activities such as bathing or taking medications. Assisted Living is available with or without subsidies. Public assisted living facilities are operated by the local health authority (for example Vancouver Coastal Health), require a health assessment for admittance, and generally cost 70% of income. There are generally waitlists for public Assisted Living facilities.

Residential Care and Hospices

Residential Care provides care and supervision for individuals who can no longer manage in their own homes and is available with or without subsidies. Hospices provide palliative care for people nearing the end of their life.

Mental Health

Housing for individuals with serious and persistent mental health issues. Referrals are required through Mental Health teams. Visit the Ministry of Health Services website.

Wheelchair Housing

This housing usually has one to two suites that are wheelchair modified in a building. These buildings will also be listed under other housing types.



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