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Myron Steinman about 2 years agoI From Engage Kitchener
I would like to see different forms of affordable and accessible housing encouraged. This ranges from non-profit housing that is sponsored by governments, changes to loan policies that enable groups of ordinary citizens to build co-housing projects, housing that may be legislated by government in high rise developments, lower development fees that allow home owners to build apartments in their existing homes, zoning by-laws and research that encourage house sharing, Habitat for Humanity ownership type housing and private non-profits like Menno Homes,. Furthermore research into small houses. and concern and design for public space. Lets tape into the creativity of our citizens, along with enabling city planning.
Engage Kitchener is not a certified voting system or ballot box. As with any public comment process, participation in Engage Kitchener is voluntary. The ideas in this record are not necessarily representative of the whole population, nor do they reflect the opinions of any government agency or elected officials.
MORE ON MY HOUSING VISION
Now I have many visions: The following has to do with alternatives to the institutionalization of seniors, but really applies to all citizens:
It takes a neighbourhood to remove the stigma of old age...
We fear and do not talk about symptoms of dementia, moving into and with a disability, chronic health conditions and/or the powerlessness coming for many of us in old age.
My idea is not new, but I am calling for these concerns to be addressed at a neighbourhood level... Among other things, I am inspired by the co-housing movement, watching Bollywood dramas where inter-generational sharing of a household is still common, my paid employment as a community mental health worker, my volunteer work with a small social development organization.
Some background: In the mid 1990's the Ontario Provincial Government got into funding large non-profit housing projects. "Consulting groups" emerged to help citizen groups design, build and administer homes for themselves...housing units that were new townhouses and/or apartment towers, but catering to a range of incomes from deep subsidy, shallow subsidy to market rents.
What I am trying to put into words is a proposal for a "neighbourhood association" to work in partnership with a "consulting organization" to help facilitate a process so that ordinary citizens can build "supportive neighbourhoods" for themselves.
The major idea is self contained living quarters, along with larger common amenity areas that are shared with a supportive community. The legal ownership may be co-housing, equity cooperative, condominium, intentional community or part of a established housing provider, or just a few people sharing a house together.
In some inner city neighbourhoods some older adults may live in single detached homes with large backyards but they may not be attend to the upkeep of their home and/or afford the rising taxes and/or utility bills. With gentrification they may able to sell their home for an unexpected profit, and move to a small apartment, condominium or a retirement home and/or nursing home and live out their years...
(many in isolation).
A developer can move in, tear down the houses and build modern projects that may cater to individuals with a high income. (That is the stereotype). And governments can't be trusted. (That is the stereotype)
But there may be an alternative(s). Neighbourhoods could be re-designed from the inside out.
Neighbourhood Associations are growing in popularity (at Ieast least in my City)... But they sometimes lack the engagement, research, advocacy or financial resources. They may need to approach city hall, apply for by-law, zoning changes, change mortgage rules,,,, Hire a trusted contractor, real estate agent, planner architect , lawyer, social worker or outreach worker...nurse, personal support worker, ...volunteer coordinator...., human resource director..
We may need help to come together, to engage with each other, to discern what we value about our neighbourhood, to build leaders.
Thanks for your comment.
You may be right. We lead busy lives. In many subdivisions people don't know their geographical neighbour, and may have no desire to know their neighbour. The might rather invite their friends and have a BBQ in their fenced in backyard.
The opposite is happening in some areas of my City, with a renewed interest in "front porches", and the growth of Neighbourhood Associations. My City is providing some leadership in this area with a "Festival of Neighbourhoods" that promotes neighbourhood events and "place making" like community gardens etc,
Municipal government could go further by providing funding for a "consulting engagement group" to help a neighbourhood association (that is interested build trust and organize themselves. ..
Please notice my proposal does accommodate people to share a house together as you describe. You did not, however suggest anything about the financial ownership of such houses. Or how people would find like-minded minded to come together and start such an initiative...
Furthermore did you know, some cities have by-laws that prohibit larger numbers of unrelated people from living together. Then there is mistrust and the NIMBY knee jerk reactions against anything but conformity to "tacky houses all in a row".
Many seniors feel isolated and powerless against gentrification that may be happening in their neighbourhood.
We have supportive organizations springing up to help seniors live in their own home. I am suggesting supportive organizations to help people live in their neighbourhood.