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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Housing the elderly : a comprehensive policy and coordinated program O'Gorman, Denis Keith Patrick


One of the most striking dimensions of population change in Canada is the marked increase of elderly persons in proportion to the total population. This phenomenon, particularly pronounced in British Columbia (B.C.), reflects in large measure the attractiveness of regions within B.C, where climatic conditions are probably the most moderate in Canada. This large concentration of the elderly creates a significant housing problem because the elderly, on the whole, have lower incomes than other housing consumers and are thus at a disadvantage in securing adequate accommodation. An attempt is made to evolve an approach to the problem of housing the needy elderly which will be generally applicable in Canada and particularly applicable in B.C. It is contended that there is need for an administrative system designed to coordinate the diverse public and private organizations that are involved, or potentially involved, in providing housing and complementary services for the needy elderly. Coordination is required at several levels including coordination of planning and welfare agencies, coordination of efforts of municipalities in housing programs designed to serve residents of several municipalities, and coordination of private housing and service agencies with complementary public housing and service agencies. As a basis for investigation it is hypothesized that: In British Columbia, the Provincial Government ought to be responsible for establishing the objectives, policies and administrative framework necessary to encourage joint participation of federal, provincial and local governments and private enterprises in implementation of a comprehensive housing program for the elderly. The hypothesis stresses the importance of objectives and policies as a necessary basis of a housing program. While Provincial responsibility is emphasized, the ideal situation would entail joint Federal - Provincial participation in the definition of housing objectives and policies because of their joint participation in financing of these programs. Accordingly, it is proposed that the overall administrative framework use the "Urban Development Board", an administrative device designed to foster effective and coordinated joint Federal - Provincial action. The Provincial Government is alone constitutionally capable of establishing the necessary administrative machinery to implement housing programs at the local level. The key issue is whether to entrust the program to a dominant Provincial mechanism or to a strongly empowered local agency. Emphasis is placed on the human ecology of the problem. The problem of housing the elderly is expected to be pronounced in regions with climatic amenity, and particularly in urban areas of those regions. In addition, the requirements of an administrative system to implement a housing program are developed and a range of alternative administrative devices analyzed in light of these criteria. The analysis suggested that the local housing authority approach could produce a coordinated housing program at the local level of Government. The Provincial Government would make housing a mandatory function of local government, at the same time providing the necessary powers and financial resources for local housing authorities. The Provincial government would coordinate the programs of all local housing authorities and administer a system of grants-in-aid to these authorities in proportion to the need and in relation to Provincially established priorities. Because of the strength of voluntary philanthropic housing effort in B. C., it is suggested that the local housing authority be closely affiliated for coordination purposes with a proposed Housing Council to be comprised of representatives of those private organizations providing housing and collateral services. The case-study method is used to determine the utility of the recommended administrative system within the context of a specific area. The focus of the case study is on the administrative arrangements for housing the elderly at the local level. Proposed changes in Federal - Provincial relations on housing problems are not examined because a case study cannot identify the influence of non-existent administrative systems. The study serves to illustrate the potential role of a local housing authority although the mechanics of implementing the approach are not detailed. The hypothesis fails to assert explicitly that the Federal and Provincial Governments should jointly participate in formulating objectives and policies and that a housing program for the elderly should not be conceived independently of an overall housing program. Subject to these limitations, the hypothesis is considered valid.

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