Bowser society looks to build affordable housing for seniors

Group trying to raise $200,000 to build units on land behind Bowser library

There’s a proven need and a business plan in place. It’s now all about the dough.

The Bowser Seniors’ Housing Society is currently trying to raise $200,000, an amount its president says will allow them to build 18 affordable housing units for seniors.

“If we raise the $200,000 then we will move forward,” said Dick Stubbs. “If the community is not ready for this we will have to hold off for a year or do something smaller.”

The society has raised about $15,000 to date, including $8,000 at a recent event. With the help of the Regional District of Nanaimo, the society has secured 10 acres of land for the project behind the Bowser library. The plan right now is to build 18 units in a complex that would cost $2.8 million. The math now suggest a tenant could live in one of these units — their own room, with lunches, dinners and other events in a common area — somewhere between $1,800-$2,200/month.

“It’s sort of like building a big house and people have their own room and bathroom and they come together for lunch and supper,” said Stubbs. “But this is at the concept stage.”

With a loan from CHMC, the society was able to get a consultant to complete a needs assessment, which they presented to members and the public in December of 2012.

Stubbs said the society believes it can arrange a mortgage that can keep costs down for tenants if it raises $200,000 and uses that to leverage the same amount out of both the federal and provincial governments.

“We are out there beating the bushes in the community,” he said.

This is from the needs assessment completed late last year:

“With the high growth rate in the number of seniors in the RDN, ongoing wait lists at other facilities in the region and a keen interest for many seniors in staying in a rural area or village as they age, there is sufficient indication of the need for a small supportive living project in Bowser,” read the conclusion of the Needs Assessment and Business Plan Report, prepared for the society by City Spaces Consulting. “The society’s plan to build approximately 36 units in two phases, is a prudent way to proceed. The challenge for the society will be in raising sufficient capital funds so that the rent (including services) can be kept to a level that will make the project attractive to the target population — namely low and moderate income seniors with some support needs.”

The society’s website (www.bshs.ca) has loads of information and displays this as the group’s vision statement:  “Our Society is committed to the concept of affordable housing for seniors within their own community.  We want to enable seniors to stay close to family and friends while maintaining a degree of independence.”

If you would like more information, or you would like to make a donation, visit the society’s website or e-mail: secretary@bowser-seniors-housing-society.org