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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Housing British Columbia's small town elderly Guilbault, Lynn Marie


British Columbia's population is aging. The percentage of people who are 65 years of age or older in this province has increased from 10.9 percent in 1981 to 12.1 percent in 1986. By the year 2001, it is predicted that a full 13.5 percent of B.C.'s population will be 65 or over. An increasing number of these senior citizens are choosing to live in small towns (those with less than 10,000 population). A review of the literature reveals that little is known about the elderly in small towns, particularly about the range of housing choices available to them. The purpose of this research is to determine the nature and extent of housing needs of the independent small town elderly in British Columbia. The main source of information about the small town elderly, their housing, and their perception of conditions was through a survey of the seniors themselves that was conducted in 16 small towns in B.C.. The results of this study reveal that housing affects the 'environmental satisfaction' of the elderly and this is reflected in their ability to cope with day to day living, their own perception of health, and their plans to move. The respondents in the survey who express the most disatisfaction with their housing conditions are those who live in single family dwellings and mobile homes, those with low incomes, women, and those over 85 years of age. The single family detached house comprises the majority of the small town housing stock. While small towns vary in the range of housing choices available to seniors, choices tend to increase with the size of the town. A review of current housing programs available in B.C. indicate that existing programs generally address urban housing needs, having little impact on B.C.'s small towns. Future projections urge planners to work towards meeting the housing needs of a growing small town senior population in B.C. Recommendations to address present and future small town housing needs of the elderly include: 1. Expand the stock of senior's rental units geared to income. 2. Expand the private rental stock. 3. Expand home support services to allow seniors to remain living independently in their own homes longer. 4. Involve the community in developing community goals for seniors.

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