Housing stability and community connections are important for maintaining a high quality of life at any age. Yet disruptions to both can be especially detrimental to healthy aging.
Patrick McLaughlin, president of the Kiwanis North Shore Housing Society, believes high-quality housing should be available to everyone, including seniors with low or moderate incomes.
And that’s the mandate of Kiwanis: to provide affordable rental housing for individuals, families and seniors on the North Shore, an area where vulnerable residents are at risk of being displaced due to burgeoning development.
Over the 12 years McLaughlin has been on Kiwanis’s board of directors, he has witnessed an ever-accelerating pace of redevelopment.
“The result is a loss of old-stock rental accommodation,” he says. “When these buildings are torn down, tenants with lower incomes have to search for affordable alternatives.”
Kiwanis, which has been operating in North and West Vancouver for 70 years, has felt a surge in demand for affordable rental accommodation, explains McLaughlin.
“We’re working hard to address this challenge, but we can’t keep up with demand. That’s why we're always looking for new opportunities.”
In the past decade, the society has added three new buildings to its portfolio. It now operates a total of 744 rental apartments across the North Shore, including Lynn Woods, which is scheduled for completion in June 2022.
All properties are designed and operated with the well-being of residents at the top of mind, and McLaughlin describes Lynn Woods as “a wonderful place to call home.” The only catch is that prospective tenants must be 65 years or older to qualify.
“It’s an exceptional opportunity for low- to moderate-income seniors. The building is located one block away from the Lynn Valley shopping centre and library and the Karen Magnussen Recreation Centre,” he explains.
“Everything a senior needs is within easy walking distance, and public transit is also available nearby.”
Rental rates for the 106 generously sized one-bedroom apartments come in three categories: The first offers rents as low as $375 per month for individuals on income assistance. Rents in the second group are set at 30% of tenant income (for annual incomes up to $57,500). The third category, for tenants with annual incomes up to $77,430, offers rents of $1,775 to $1,810 per month.
There are a variety of indoor and outdoor spaces, which are shared with the adjacent Lynn Manor tower. They include an 18th-floor roof-top patio with fabulous views, a lounge on the main floor for causal gatherings or dinners, and an arts room surrounded by floor-to-ceiling windows, says McLaughlin.
“We also have a large courtyard with an undercover area, a bocce ball court and planters, where residents can grow vegetables or flowers.”
While the term “affordable housing” may conjure up an image of low-quality accommodation, Kiwanis takes a different approach. After all, high-quality buildings not only offer better living environments – they are typically more efficient to manage and maintain, emphasizes McLaughlin.
“If you were to tour any of our properties, you'd be surprised that they are no different than the condominium building next door,” he says.
To achieve this balance of quality and affordability, Kiwanis partners with North Shore municipalities, BC Housing, CMHC and local developers.
“The high cost of land is a key barrier for developing affordable housing, so we’re working with municipalities to identify options for leasing land or partner with developers whose projects include a non-market housing component,” McLaughlin notes.
“And through BC Housing and CMHC, we have access to low-interest financing options.”
“People tend to think of North Shore residents as relatively affluent, but a large percentage of the population has low or moderate incomes.”
When they have to seek cheaper housing options elsewhere, their community connections are lost – and neighbourhoods will be less diverse, a trend Kiwanis is working to curb.
“Many North Shore residents know friends or family members, and in some cases multiple generations of a family, who enjoyed living in a Kiwanis residence,” he says.
The goal for Kiwanis is to continue serving the North Shore for another 70 years, McLaughlin continues. “We’re proud of our tradition of providing homes that enhance the well-being of residents in a safe, secure and affordable environment.”
More information at kiwanisnorthshorehousing.org or 604-834-8988.