solving Cortes Island's senior's housing crisis

Cortes Island takes step to solve seniors housing crisis

National Observer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Cortes Island senior Hanyu Wasyliwis in no hurry to unpack the boxes after her latest move.

The 77-year-old is settling into her new digs at her leisure because, for once, she’s not going anywhere.

“I do not intend to pack up and move ever again, God willing,” she said laughing.

Wasyliw is one of the residents moving into new housing at the Cortes Island Seniors Village, which provides stable, affordable units so older residents can age in place among family and friends.

Cortes Island’s Seasonal homelessness

Cortes Island, with about 1,000 year-round residents, is wedged between the B.C. mainland and Vancouver Island.

Permanent, affordable rental housing on the small island is scarce, so many residents rent recreational properties on a temporary basis, Wasyliw said.

Each summer, the senior would move out of her rental for a month when her landlord arrived.

“I would usually go visit family, my kids or couch-surf with friends,” Wasyliw said, adding she considered herself lucky because many other residents have nowhere to live for the entire summer.

Needed something more permanent

But her landlord was also looking to sell the property.

“I knew that I needed something more permanent, so I’m very happy to have secured one of these units,” Wasyliw said.

“I’m very fortunate and have lots of gratitude.”

A complex helping to address Cortes Island's Senior's housing crisis
Additional cottages at the Cortes Island Seniors Village are complete and residents are able to age in place in their community. Photo courtesy of Cortes Island Seniors Society

Expansion of the Senior’s Village

An expansion of the seniors village (with assistance from the province and BC Housing) was recently completed, adding two new cottages and a duplex, said Sandra Wood, housing project co-ordinator with the Cortes Island Seniors Society (CISS).

Residents began moving into the units at the end of last year, Wood said.

There are now 10 homes for seniors in the complex, which is walking distance to the island’s medical clinic and the village of Mansons Landing, she added.

“It’s great that we’re all done and everybody is moved in,” Wood said.

However, the new units are not enough to meet the demand fuelled by the housing crisis on Cortes, she said.

Links of Interest:

Top photo credit: Four more units of non-profit rental housing has been completed and residents have moved in at the Cortes Island Seniors Village, says project co-ordinator Sandra Wood. Photo screen grab courtesy of Cortes Community Housing

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