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Micro suites offer affordable alternative to Lower Mainland seniors

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Seniors advocates are welcoming the addition of a purpose-built rental building in Burnaby geared at those aged 55 and older.

The McKay Apartments, run by the Fair Haven Homes Society, offers 350 square-foot studios for singles and one-bedroom suites for couples.

“It’s small, but it’s livable, we’re very happy here,” said tenant Terry Murphy.

READ MORE: New 250-square-foot micro suites coming to Victoria

Murphy, 74, moved into one of the micro-suites with her dog after living in a downtown Vancouver apartment for 26 years.

She says she was stressed about the thought of downsizing, but eventually found the move liberating.

“I was panicking… I had a lot of junk. Once I decided to do it, I thought, ‘Wow, I feel better,’ this is all I need.”

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The smaller space comes with savings.

“We tried really hard to keep the rents as low as possible. So our studio units rent for $975 per month,” said Fair Haven Homes Society CEO Joy Parsons.

“It’s still high in the world for a senior who’s on a limited income, but it is a more affordable rate than in other areas of the Lower Mainland.”

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Advocates are calling for more of the non-profit rentals aimed at seniors.

According to Kyoto Takahashi, operations manager at the Senior Services Society, seniors can wait between two and five years for an affordable rental in the Lower Mainland.

“Competition is really really tight, so for (seniors) to get in, it’s really difficult,” Takahashi said.

“At an open house, 20 people might show up, and then the preference is usually given to younger, working populations.”