Helping Okanagan seniors find shared housing is the goal of a new pilot program – Okanagan

A new pilot program launched by a Kelowna company could be a solution for affordable housing options for seniors.

Called Companion Housing, Happipad’s program matches seniors with other seniors or families with the goal of allowing both parties to share housing.

“Our seniors are often the low-income people, but they often pay the highest rents, especially those who live in independent seniors’ residences,” said Happipad founder Cailan Libby. “We’ve seen seniors pay $3,000, $4,000 or $5,000 a month to live in a one-bedroom apartment, and we just don’t think that’s fair.”

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“We’ve seen a growing demand across the country for seniors looking for affordable housing, but they don’t want to live alone and there aren’t a lot of options out there,” Libby added.

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Happipad partnered with Kelowna Seniors Outreach and Resource Center to help launch the program.

“The idea is that we want to find other members of our community. It could be families, it could be other elderly people, it could be other people living alone who want someone to share their house, to maybe get some extra income, some extra company,” Libby said.

The program intervenes in an expensive and tight housing market, which makes it even more difficult for seniors on fixed incomes.

“Senior housing options in our city are very expensive, and sometimes they don’t provide the type of living experience these seniors want,” Libby said.

“A lot of them are still active, still healthy. They don’t want to be isolated in a retirement home.


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Sylvia Phillips, 84, hopes to find more affordable housing through the Companion Housing scheme.

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The West Kelowna eldest currently lives in a retirement complex, but with the rising cost of living, her rent is quickly becoming unaffordable.

“It leaves me with no money for other things in life,” Phillips told Global News. “Finding good accommodation in itself is a problem. Finding good affordable housing is impossible.

In addition to more affordable rent, Phillips is also looking to enter a household

“I would like to live with a family. If that’s not possible, live with whoever they choose for me, as long as we’re compatible,” Phillips said.

“I have no apprehension about associating with and rubbing shoulders with young people and old people. I would like to be part of a household because I am one of 10 children and I grew up like this. And I believe that this way of life becomes rewarding.

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The concept of intergenerational colocation is commonplace in Western Europe, and Happipad hopes it will take off here too.

“It’s not very common in Canada, you know. We’re sort of breaking the ice with this idea,” Libby said.

“But we think if people are presented with a compelling program, there will be an appetite and people will love that program.”

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He added that older people often make good tenants.

“You probably have the best tenant you’ll ever have,” Libby said. “Someone responsible, someone who wants to help clean the house.

“If you have kids, they can play with the kids. They really want to be like a family member who wants to be included. They want to contribute, and they are going to be responsible, shut up. Just a great person to have around the house.


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Phillips said her ideal home would be one where she could contribute like everyone else in the family.

“Whether it’s gardening, cooking, cleaning, windows,” she said. “No matter what it is, whatever rocks the house.”

You can check the Happipad website for more information.

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Seniors interested in enrolling can contact the Seniors Outreach and Resource Center by calling 250-861-6180 or calling Happipad at 778-760-4511.


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