Broker of Record with Solterra Realty
President of Solterra Co-Housing in Port Carling, Ont
As one of the first proponents of Co-Ownership housing in Ontario, she has implemented a model that allows a group of seniors to age in place in the comfort of a residential dwelling, sharing ongoing household expenses and the cost of support services, while each owning an undivided interest in the whole property (not just their exclusive private area) that can be sold on the open market.
There is no government ownership or involvement, and our members have their own private accessible suite, which we call a Friendship Suite, with access to common areas such as living, dining, and kitchen space, along with full range of amenities and services. Together the owner/members control and share in decisions and costs, including those around housekeeping and care support services. Homes operate on flexible guidelines uniquely featuring active participation on the part of the suite owners in the daily life of the home and its suite owners/owners. Each home has a housekeeper who prepares meals, shops, cleans, and oversees the management
“With Traditional Retirement Homes and Long-Term Care Facilities Being Stretched Extremely Thin, Shared Housing Is Quickly Becoming An Attractive Option. The Need For Housing Is Outstripping The Service & The Whole System Is Overwhelmed.”
Shelley Stated While Presenting At A CARP Seminar
Because baby boomers tend to have fewer children than their parent’s generation, depending on offspring for in-home support will be less likely. “Most seniors don’t want to live with family anyway,” Shelley said. “They love to visit, but they don’t want to live with them.” Seniors are keen to take this opportunity to change the status quo and to ensure they remain independent as long as possible. We’re beginning to see seniors’ housing being reinvented, with an increasing percentage of seniors giving the thumbs down to conventional and costly options such as the old-style retirement residences. They definitely won’t be sticking to the script where seniors’ housing is concerned. It’s been widely reported that due to boomer numbers, a whopping increase in the senior population looms. Some estimates indicate that the number of seniors in Canada could almost double in 20 years. We are at the front edge of the baby boom bulge, which is bringing with it massive social impact, including a growing need for seniors housing.
Shelley is convinced it’s a concept that’s about to erupt big time – so much so that she’s repeatedly turned down interview requests from national news networks, deciding instead to wait until Estates of Niagara is launched in 2023, having the ability to handle the calls, which she expects to result. Having a 6-step screening process to match co-owners based on our member’s support needs and lifestyle choices. At all levels, the resident “does need a certain level of independence,” although the goal is for our residents to age in place for as long as possible. Our Friendship Suites is co-ownership, and is registered as a tenant in common on the title/deed… It is one home with multiple co-owners. Shelley totally believes it’s the way of the future and she is very passionate about this. As demand for co-housing by seniors continues to increase, the demographics promise a built-in customer base sooner rather than later. It’s still very early in the process, remember how condos took off, and no one initially thought they would? Realtors can’t sell what they don’t understand. It’s a learning curve.”
Her journey into Co-Ownership started when her elderly mother, who suffered from Alzheimer’s, had to be admitted to a long-term care facility and her father wasn’t ready to live alone. She had already been caring for her parents in their home for two years and was exhausted. Overwhelmed, she did a lot of research, went all over the world on the Internet, looking for answers. She soon realized that shared home ownership, which is on the rise both abroad and in North America, could result in substantial savings and address a host of social and emotional housing challenges for seniors, including isolation and loneliness. Drawn to the idea because it offered a solution to her elderly father’s predicament. It was an idea born out of necessity. “I was a desperate caregiver”.
Her father had congestive heart failure, could no longer live alone and was burning through the reverse mortgage on his home. Raymond was afraid he would outlive his nest egg. But he refused to move in with Shelley or go into a retirement residence. Then she had an idea. She would create a shared-living home, with her father as the first shared owner. Raymond’s father would be one of four seniors to share the costs of the home, which can include the services of a caregiver, in a 4,000-square-foot, four-suite home in Barrie.
“My father loved it,” Shelley remembered, and he felt he still had control over his life. He reaped the benefits of a built-in social network and the savings from sharing the costs of utilities, upkeep, taxes, home insurance and housekeeping/personal assistance (including laundry, shopping, cooking, and medication reminders)..Shelley was grateful that when her father’s time came, she was able “to say good-bye as a daughter, not a caregiver.”