Research into Social Impact Bonds and how they can be applied to affordable housing projects for seniors
The Seniors Housing Research Project was funded by the City of St. John's and the Province of Newfoundland Labrador and released in 2014. It can be found here.
The study was prompted by the City's 2012 Age Friendly Survey in which local seniors identified housing as their top issue of concern, as well as the Seniors Housing Forum (also 2012) which identified that builders wanted more information on opportunities in the changing seniors housing market. In June 2014, Council adopted the Affordable Housing Business Plan, which includes a goal of creating 500 homes with our partners by 2017, including 100 age friendly homes. This report presents detailed market information and innovative ideas on how home builders can meet local needs and expand into this growing niche.
Demographics: Currently 20% of the City's population is over 60, by 2035, it will be 28%. Current average income of those over 60 is only $24 540, however there is a high percentage of home ownership, and a significant group with assets to invest in more suitable housing forms (e.g. downsizing). Seniors represent a broad range of incomes and diverse needs.
Housing Supply: Current supply is largely focused on single family homes that do not meet seniors' diverse and changing needs; and 75 % of available residential land is still zoned for single family homes. This will present a challenge to meeting the goals of the City's Municipal Plan of increasing densities, providing a range of housing options and creating complete communities. More affordable, innovative options are needed - this represents a major market opportunity.
The report suggests that the City of St. John's has an important and proactive role to play in several areas and outlines 20 recommendations that we can work on, with our partners, in this area. Many of these areas are already identified in the strategies outlined in the City's Affordable Housing Business Plan (AHBP).
One of the recommendations states: "As part of an education campaign, share information on social impact bonds with community agencies and the private sector, including seniors". Another recommendation proposes: "Explore the feasibility of working with community agencies and private investors to fund an affordable seniors housing pilot project through the use of social impact bonds". Therefore the City would like to investigate this further and we are approaching the University via the Harris Centre and Yaffle to explore research interest among the academic community into social impact bonds and how they might be applied to housing, in particular in the development of affordable, innovative housing for seniors.