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Types of Housing

There are many different types of housing options available to older adults in British Columbia. Our Seniors Housing Finder is divided by both the type of housing and the location. We have also created a Housing Grid that provides a quick summary on the different types of housing:

Subsidized Housing

Seniors non-profit or subsidized housing is affordable rental housing for individuals over 55 years of age with low incomes. Rent is subsidized by the government or another source, and is normally set at 30% of income. Generally (though not always) there are no services provided and the apartment units are small bachelor suites.  There are long waitlists for subsidized housing so it is important to apply early.

BC Housing Buildings

BC Housing is a crown corporation of BC, and it owns and operates many subsidized buildings in the province. To apply for a BC Housing building you must get on their centralized applicant database (the “Housing Registry”) by filling out a BC Housing Application. For more information contact BC Housing.

Other Non-profit Buildings

In addition to BC Housing, there are many non-profit societies offering subsidized housing to seniors. Even though many of the buildings receive subsidies from BC Housing, they are operated by the individual societies, so you must apply to these buildings directly. Call or visit these buildings to obtain application forms.

**When selecting Subsidized Housing on Seniors Services Society’s Housing Finder, notice the “Housing Provider” listed. If it says “BC Housing” you must apply to the Housing Registry; if it lists another housing provider, you must apply to the provider directly.

Co-operative Housing (Co-op)

This type of housing is not just for older adults and varies in cost. There may be some subsidies available in Co-ops, however they are jointly owned and thus you must pay a refundable share purchase when entering Co-op housing. You must also contribute a certain amount of time to the running of the co-op. For more information on Co-ops and listings of Co-ops currently taking applications contact Co-op Housing Federation of BC.

Single Room Occupancy (SRO)

This housing is not just for older adults. SRAs are single room accommodation hotel style housing with no services, usually no cooking facilities and shared bathrooms. LIUS is Low Income Urban Singles. More information is available from BC Housing.

Supportive Housing – Retirement Homes

Housing for older adults only; Generally includes at least one meal a day, emergency response system, housekeeping and social and recreational opportunities. This housing option is usually private (not subsidized), though there are a few subsidized supportive housing units available through BC Housing’s Seniors Supported Housing (SSH) program. For more information on the SSH program contact BC Housing.

Assisted Living – Public and Private

Housing for older adults; includes meal services, emergency response system, housekeeping, social and recreational opportunities with additional assistance with personal activities such as bathing or taking medications. Assisted Living is available with or without subsidies. Public assisted living facilities are operated by the local health authority (for example Vancouver Coastal Health), require a health assessment for admittance, and generally cost 70% of income. There are generally waitlists for public Assisted Living facilities. For more information on Assisted Living contact the Assisted Living Registrar.

Long Term Care and Hospices – Public and Private

Residential Care provides care and supervision for individuals who can no longer manage in their own homes. Residential Care is available with or without subsidies. Hospices provide palliative care for people nearing the end of their life. For more information visit the Ministry of Health website.

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