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Senior Housing Options in British Columbia

Seniors in British Columbia wishing to relocate from their current home have several options available to them depending on their care needs and available monthly income.

Subsidized Housing - rent is based on income rather than on market rate.

An application is required and there are waiting lists for these units. Those that are members of The Housing Registry (not- for-profits or housing co-operatives) can be applied for through their application process, those that are not listed with the Registry require separate applications. Visit the BC Housing Registry at or for information on applying for subsidized housing in British Columbia visit

Supportive Housing - The Seniors' Supportive Housing program provides specially modified rental homes, in selected subsidized housing developments, primarily to low-income seniors or people with disabilities who need some assistance in order to continue to live independently. Support services include 24-hour response, light housekeeping, meals, and social and recreational activities. (Quoted from: An application through the Housing Registry is required. The program is funded through the Province if British Columbia.

Assisted Living - these residences are governed by the Community Care and Assisted Living Act and are defined as the following: "a premises or part of a premises, other than a community care facility, in which housing, hospitality services and at least one but not more than 2 prescribed services are provided by or through the operator to 3 or more adults who are not related by blood or marriage to the operator of the premises..." (quoted from: Assisted Living units can be for profit or not-for-profit and vary in size and accommodation. Available services may include assistance with activities of daily living (grooming, dressing etc.) and recreational/social activities. The Assisted Living Registrar is responsible for following up with all concerns and complaints. For further information see the article "Retirement Home Regulation in British Columbia".

The key difference between Supportive Housing and Assisted Living is that Supportive Housing has more to do with housing as opposed to care which is a predominant characteristic of Assisted Living settings.

Residential Care - (nursing homes, long-term care) are facilities for those that cannot be independent in their own homes and require 24/7 care and support. Residents are provided with meals, medication assistance, assistance with activities of daily living and social/recreational programs. Eligibility for a government subsidized Residential Care facility is determined by a case manager from the Regional Health Authority. Those assessed as having the greatest need will be given priority for admission to the first available and appropriate bed. Fees are determined by the person's after-tax income. There are also Private Nursing Homes where no subsidies are available. The private homes set their own fees and manage their own waiting lists and admission procedures.


Esther Goldstein, B.Sc., B.S.W., RSW

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is offered for general informational and educational purposes only. Opinions expressed are those of the writer and not necessarily In no way are any of the materials presented meant to be a substitute for professional advice nor should it be construed as such.  Senioropolis Inc. has endeavoured to ensure the completeness and accuracy of the information contained on this website. However, neither it nor the administrator of the site assumes liability whatsoever for any errors or omissions, nor guarantees the accuracy, of the information herein.

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Comprehensive Guide to Retirement Living in Canada

Comprehensive Guide to Retirement Living®
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Canada-wide – 22nd Edition

  • What is a Retirement Residence? and Who Needs One?
  • Retirement Residence & Long-Term Care Visiting Tips –Important Questions to Ask and Things to Look For when touring
  • Emotional Aspects of Relocation
  • How to Make the Transition Easier
  • What if a Retirement Community is not the Right Option?
  • What is Long-Term Care?
  • Community Resources
  • Housing Options
  • Resource information on goods and services for seniors
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