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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Housing for the aged: an exploratory study of needs and preferences; surveys of a housing registry waiting list, and of a characteristic central area, Vancouver, 1961-62 Hanowski, Arvey Joseph

Abstract

While a number of housing projects for elderly people have been built, there is a serious lack of definitive information, not only of total future need, but of the variety of needs and preferences among the aged, which is essential for the formation of an enlightened and constructive housing policy. The present study is a first step in seeking to ascertain a balanced picture of needs from old people themselves. Originally, a number of area samples within the City of Vancouver were projected, but this had to be abandoned because of enumeration difficulties. The compromise was a comparative assessment of two samples (a) one drawn from the Housing Registry set up by the Community Chest and Council, (b) one area in the False Creek section of the City which has many units peopled by elderly residents, and which is categorized for city planning purposes as needing "redevelopment". By themselves, these are not sufficiently definitive: it is hoped that more can be added in the future. But this first survey opens up both method and insights. Studies completed elsewhere have been employed as background, and relevant findings compared with the present enquiry. Several questionnaires were devised. Members of each sample group were interviewed individually, for approximately one hour each: and the interviewers added their own observations on a number of relevant factors. The evidence is that the elderly people on the Community Chest "waiting list" are in poorer health, express more dissatisfaction with their present housing, have somewhat better accommodation, but pay more for it, and have moved around more than the elderly residents in the False Creek area. Women are particularly numerous on the Registry. It is also alarmingly clear that many persons in the False Creek area cling to housing which is not serving their accommodation needs. Their neighbourhood symbolizes security; to move is to face the unknown, and also threatens their concept of independence. Both groups are spending too large a proportion of their income on rent. Both groups denied or blocked out the possibility of their health deteriorating to the point where nursing or boarding home care might be required. There is evidence that housing is not understood as a welfare matter, or a proper aim of social policy: low-rental housing is viewed negatively, and public housing for general purposes confused with housing projects for old people only.

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