Housing for seniors

Region: Ontario Answer # 1730

Depending on their lifestyle and financial circumstances, there are a number of options for housing for seniors.   While they may want to downsize, upsize, or accommodate their change in lifestyle, seniors are more likely to move if they are renters, are widowed or separated from their spouse, or, if someone leaves or joins the family. A change in their physical or mental health may also be a factor.


Housing option for low-income seniors

Throughout Ontario, social housing (also known as affordable housing) provides rental units for seniors that are developed and subsidized by the government, and that usually adapt the rent to the senior’s income.

Social housing is meant for seniors who are able to manage their own care, but prefer to live with other seniors.  The type of housing and length of time before a unit becomes available will depend on the area the senior lives in. To access this type of housing, seniors will need to complete an application and may be put on a waiting list.

For more information and to apply for subsidized seniors’ housing, contact a Municipal Service Manager at the Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing.


Supportive Housing Programs

Supportive housing programs provide on-site personal support services, sometimes called Assisted Living Services, for seniors living as tenants in residential buildings designated for seniors. They are designed to help people to live independently in their own apartments. Services include personal support and attendant services, essential homemaking services, and an emergency response system.

Most supportive housing programs are operated by not-for-profit organizations and are funded through the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. Therefore, there may be no charge for the personal support/attendant and essential homemaking services. However, tenants are responsible for paying rent which is most often based on their income.


Retirement Homes

Retirement homes are an option for seniors who require light assistance with services such as meals, laundry and housekeeping.  Most retirement homes also offer supervised recreational activities.

Retirement homes are rental housing, although nursing services and other help is provided at a cost in addition to rent.   A Care Home Information Package must be provided to new residents that details what services are available in that retirement home and how much each service costs.

While similar to supportive housing in that some services are provided, retirement homes are run by private landlords and do not receive funding or licensing from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.


Long-Term Care Homes

Long-Term Care Homes are for seniors who can no longer be cared for in their own homes or in housing that provides assisted living services. Residents need help with the activities of daily living, as well as access to 24-hour nursing care or supervision in a secure setting.  Most often, this type of housing for seniors offers higher levels of personal care and support than those typically offered by either retirement homes or supportive housing.

Long-Term Care Homes, also called nursing homes, are licensed or approved by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.


Life Lease Housing

Life Lease housing is a form of housing that provides individuals 55 and older, with the opportunity to live independently in accommodations that are comparable to condominiums, with similar suite sizes, features and monthly fees. However, the owner of the dwelling is a not-for-profit or charitable organization.

The cost of the Life Lease to the resident is the cost of the construction of their specific unit plus a share of the common areas of the building. Residents pay a monthly occupancy fee to cover the costs of maintenance, insurance, and management. They usually also pay their own utilities, property taxes and contents insurance. Many Life Lease projects offer on-site support services for a fee.

More information about the different types of housing for seniors can be found from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, or the Ontario Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility.


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