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Research Study on Scoping a Registry of Accessible and Adaptable Homes in British Columbia

Two key focus questions guided this scoping study.

  1. Would a registry of accessible and adaptable housing in BC would be useful in matching up the supply of this type of housing with people who need it?
  2. If yes, what would be the key features/format/data of an ideal registry, what would the potential data sources, and who could be potential funders and partners?

This report summarizes the findings and informs future discussions.

Demand for adaptable and accessible housing is increasing in BC.

An increasing supply of adaptable housing (designed to be adapted economically at a later date to accommodate someone with a disability) and accessible housing (includes features that meet the needs of a person with a disability) meet the needs of a growing proportion of the Canadian population with disabilities, which is projected to expand particularly rapidly with the marked trend of an aging population. Many people with disabilities are challenged to find or modify units to meet their needs, and on top of that many require housing that is affordable due to lower incomes. These trends indicate that a better link between the supply and demand of adaptable and accessible housing is needed.

What would a registry accomplish?

A registry is an organized inventory of records to link those in search of adaptable and accessible housing with housing providers. Information is commonly shared by posting vacancies for housing seekers to view, and/or screening applicants’ needs and referring them to housing providers. The objective of a registry is to use the existing supply of adaptable and accessible housing most effectively by filling housing vacancies with people who require accessibility features in their home. In response to the above focus question for this study: Yes, a registry of accessible and adaptable housing could indeed be useful in matching up housing supply and housing demand.

We need to work with existing resources to link adaptable and accessible housing with people who need it.

Accessible Housing BC, operated by Spinal Cord Injury BC, is a recently launched (2012) resource for those looking for adaptable and accessible housing in BC. It includes a housing board with postings of available properties including non-market and market units. In addition, the Housing Registry (BC Housing) and housing providers of rent-geared-to-income and cooperatives units gather information about applicants’ accessibility needs and refer accessible units to people who need them. A key opportunity is to work collaboratively to build these existing resources and avoid duplication of efforts. Also, in BC there are some provincial regulations and programs to create more private market adaptable and accessible homes. If a so people who need these units could more easily find them.

Key advice on components of a registry of adaptable and accessible housing:

Information and experience from a small number of the existing housing registries (North America and United Kingdom) and advice from key informants shaped some considerations and recommendations in this report about what would make an ideal registry of adaptable and accessible housing in BC. The following summary of recommendations and key advice are intended to fuel discussions between partners and stakeholders who are interested in building a registry of accessible and adaptable housing:

  • A BC registry of accessible and adaptable housing is suggested to include both ‘social housing’ and ‘market housing’.
  • Consider starting off with a pilot region to gain a practical understanding of resource requirements, partnerships, organization, etc. and then expanding to a provincial scale.
  • An organization that can offer support services in addition to the registry of accessible and adaptable housing would be well suited to operate a registry. For example, a nonprofit organization with a mandate that includes services related to housing and/or assisting people with disabilities.
  • Funding for a registry could come from a combination of government funds, donations, and commercial revenue. An expected annual cost to operate is somewhere between $35,000 and $100,000 per year. Some registries function with approximately one full time person, and more may be required depending on scope and duties.
  • It is important to maintain a critical mass of available properties listings, to make it a key ‘go-to’ resource. To accomplish this success, the registry would need to be organized so to meet market housing needs in addition to non-market (social housing) needs. Active collaboration and involvement of champions in real estate, building and development, rental managers in building the registry, in addition to non-market housing providers and agencies is strongly recommended.
  • Internet listings are recommended as an effective way to collect information (from housing providers) and advertise available accessible and adaptable housing. Each available listing should include a list of accessibility and adaptability features and housing seekers should be able to filter the available housing listings that meet their specific accessibility and adaptability criteria.

What comes next?

This 2012 scoping study was a partnership between BC Housing and the Real Estate Institute of BC (REIBC), and funded by the Real Estate Foundation of BC. The next step is to convene discussions with key agencies and stakeholders about the findings of this study and their experience, and create a plan for how to proceed with the establishment of a registry of adaptable and accessible housing if there is interest to do so.

Download

Download the entire report by clicking on this link: Research Study on Scoping a Registry of Accessible and Adaptable Homes in British Columbia