University students living in an Edmonton seniors building say the living arrangement is practical and provides them with a quiet place to study.
“I think it’s a certain type of student that lives here. Mostly those that want to go about their own day and focus on their studies since for the most part, it’s pretty quiet here,” said Elizabeth Park, a third-year psychology student at the University of Alberta who is living in Strathcona Place.
“It’s an older building but it serves my needs well. I have a kitchen and washroom to myself.”
Strathcona Place is an adorable seniors apartment building near the U of A campus operated by the Greater Edmonton Foundation (GEF). Tenants need to be 65 years or older and meet certain provincial low-income requirements.
“It’s just wonderful you know. It’s so quiet compared to where I was,” said Theresa Whitson, a 89-year-old resident.
“It makes you feel a little younger when you’ve got young people like that in here.”
The 220-suite building was built in the late 1970s and some of the units are only 325 square feet. The doorways to the bathroom are tight and some of the apartments don’t lend themselves to seniors.
“If you have any mobility issues, like a walker or wheelchair, you cannot move around in these units. So they’re smaller units but they work really well for students at the university,” said Raymond Swonek, the CEO of GEF Seniors Housing.
A few years ago, the building began renting out 20 units to university students. They pay $700 a month to live in the seniors building. Although there’s no formal requirement to volunteer, the unique living arrangement is being called a win-win for both generations.
“Some of the students go down in the evenings and they may play music, they may play cards with the seniors. There’s that interaction that happens, and so we think it’s a great success,” said Swonek. “They become friends. They can do things for each other.”
“They’ll let you get in the elevator first and make sure you get out alright and don’t fall,” Whitson said. “I’ve never been woken up to a student party or any other party. It’s very quiet. I think they’ve all got good manners.”