A new multimillion-dollar housing facility in Orléans will provide some affordable housing for seniors but it only puts a small dent in the growing demand as the population ages.
The 227-unit Bruyère Village is a mix of market-value and subsidized residences. The 45 affordable housing units have already been assigned, leaving a waiting list of 150.
With leather couches, a breakfast bar and a bathroom suite, the units look more like high-end condos than social housing. A one-bedroom subsidized unit costs $650 per month, said Sandra Graham of Bruyère Continuing Care.
"Because we have this huge bubble of people who are going to be turning, you know, 65 and older, the baby boomers, they're realizing that we need to figure out how this works in an affordable way," she said.
Bruyère Village offers something many seniors want — something other than a long-term care facility, she said.
"I want to be able to live by myself and with friends, in an environment where you can actually go out and enjoy yourself. And if you are changing, all of as sudden you go and break your hip and you need more care, we can accommodate that," she said.
Who should pay for affordable housing?
The Orléans facility was built with money from all three levels government, but politicians can't agree on who should pay as the need continues to increase.
In 2012, more than 2,000 seniors were on the waiting list for subsidized housing in Ottawa, with a wait time of about 3.2 years.
Mayor Jim Watson said the City of Ottawa can't shoulder the costs alone, as the number of seniors is expected to more than double in the next 20 years.
"We need the federal and provincial government because the kinds of dollars we are looking at is tens of millions," he said.
The province has contributed $3 billion to affordable housing projects throughout Ontario since 2003.
Phil McNeely, the MPP for Ottawa—Orléans, said the federal government has to pitch in more money.
"The federal government's funding for existing social housing continues to decline every year," he said.
But Royal Galipeau, the Conservative MP for Ottawa—Orléans, said the federal government committed $1.5 billion to subsidized housing over the next five years.
"I will avoid snide remarks to the provincial government," he said.