When I started practicing, about 24 years ago, provincial and federal programs for funding of affordable housing for seniors had started to dry up. Many of the existing seniors complexes in Manitoba at the time were older buildings in need of substantial repairs and certainly not built to suit the needs and wants of an aging, but healthier, generation of seniors. It is my understanding that this generation of seniors had generally done well for itself financially, and therefore, was willing and able to invest in new, more modern housing projects to suit their lifestyle. Another key factor to the advent and growth of Life Leases in Manitoba is that government spearheaded seniors’ housing initiatives and funding was replaced by developments organized by non-profit or fraternal organizations such as the Lions, Knights of Columbus, Kiwanis, Rotary, Fraternal Order of Eagles, and community-based economic development organizations. Politically, governments got out of this type of development and started concentrating more on subsidized and affordable housing for low-income families and seniors. These organizations were not only back filling a housing shortage at the time for healthier and wealthier seniors but they were also prepared to cater to the needs and wants of this generation who could afford a newer alternative. Some of these groups also had their self-interest in mind (i.e., keeping their members or parishioners close by). When dealing with Life Leases, there is a preconception that this is an alternative housing option only available to seniors. That is not the case. Although many of the Life Lease projects have been developed for seniors (55+) because the sponsor usually needs financial contributions from the tenants, there is no such age restriction in the Act or Regulations.
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