DAN CEARNS The Standard
SCUGOG: Provincial Minister of Housing Peter Milczyn visited Port Perry, on Friday, December 1st, and his visit included a stop at a home at 100 Perry St.
The 3,400 square foot home is owned by four women, Louise Bardswich, Martha Casson, Beverly Brown and Sandy McCully, who plan to use the home to “age in place.” Each woman owns a 25 per cent share of the home.
“I had heard about the four real-life "Golden Girls" living in Port Perry, from my colleague Granville Anderson, and was curiously interested in the novel concept, so I decided to accept Granville's invitation to visit the home and meet with the four women,” Minister Milczyn said, in an email to The Standard. “As Ontario's population ages and more people debate whether to move, from their homes to a retirement home or into a different accommodation, this is a concept worth exploring, and this is why I wanted to learn more about it. I was also glad to join MPP Anderson for a roundtable on seniors housing, where I was able to chat with seniors, elected officials, business people, medical professionals and others, on how to make sure seniors have access to safe, affordable and suitable housing.”
After looking at the fact they likely could not afford a retirement home, and not wanting their children to have to take care of them, the four women decided to purchase and renovate the heritage home.
They worked with builder John Lucyk to bring their retirement dream to a reality. They moved into the shared home in November of 2016.
“I didn’t want to be a burden on my family,” Ms. Brown told The Standard,”I feel like I’m very blessed and privileged to live in a house like this, at any point in my life. I never dreamed I could, and especially as a retirement [option]. It costs me far less, as my quarter share, than it did to maintain my own home.”
For expenses, such as utilities, taxes and insurance, each one of the four women contribute a set amount to an operating fund each month. In regards to food, any of them can have anything in the fridge. If someone eats the last of an item, such as yogurt for example, they simply just need to put it on the shopping list or buy it themselves.
The new features of the home include: wide door frames, an elevator, and a suite for caregivers in the basement.
“We do realize, this is some degree of luxury. So, part of our pitch to the minister was that it doesn’t need to be done on this scale,” Ms. Casson said.
In addition, Ms. Casson said they had been trying for a while to arrange a time for the minister of housing to visit the home.
“What this visit was all about was really our advocacy for support, for creative housing models." she said. “We really think there could be a variety of incentives provided, so that people in other communities and this community can explore shared living, as a poverty reduction strategy and as an affordable housing strategy.”
Minister Milczyn said he found the shared home fascinating.
“I was impressed by the innovative concept, and by how the women had thought about everything, from an elevator that can accommodate a wheelchair to the adapted bathrooms, the possibility of having a live-in caregiver living in the basement, and the extensive legal agreement that governs their living arrangement. From my discussion with the four women, I could tell that every detail has been extensively and methodically thought through.”
He also called the idea of a shared ownership home an “option worth considering for many people.”
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