Charity provides affordable housing for lower-income seniors in Maple Ridge

All seniors deserve a safe place to call home.

Since 1970, the Columbus Charities Association (CCA) has provided independent living facilities for lower-income seniors.

Now, they’re taking over management of a home in Maple Ridge for seniors who need affordable housing and have a number of vacancies available to be filled.

“We’re looking forward to welcoming independent seniors, including couples, who are looking for affordable housing where meals are provided,” says President and Chief Operating Officer of CCA, Mike Garisto.

The facility, newly dubbed Christopherson House, was built in 2002 and operated by the Royal Canadian Legion Maple Ridge Branch 88. When they were thinking of selling the home, CCA jumped at the chance to develop and manage the property, previously known as Legion House. The wheelchair-accessible home has 19 spacious one bedroom suites.

“Columbus Homes has been in an expansion phase and we feel these homes are a good match to add to our inventory of homes,” Garisto says.

Christopherson House is a congregational living home for lower-income seniors who do not require assistance. Included in the rent are all meals, which are served in the communal dining hall, home insurance, hydro, wireless emergency call pendant, regular bus trips and free laundry. In addition, there is are no property tax, strata or maintenance fees.

“When you start to factor in all those amenities included in rent, that’s where you really see the affordability,” Garisto says.

CCA’s goal is to provide conveniently located, affordable, multicultural and home-like seniors’ housing that allows all residents to live with respect and dignity in a supportive setting.

The charity also operates four other affordable housing properties in the Lower Mainland.

“When our organization was founded in the mid-1960s, there was a realization that not enough was being done to help seniors,” Garisto said.

“People were retiring and they didn’t have enough support. The men who formed our organization from the Knights of Columbus had a vision of providing affordable housing for lower-income seniors.”

Five years after the formation of the CCA, the organization built its first affordable home in Vancouver’s East Side, an 81 unit high-rise building. The Knights of Columbus in the late 60s fundraised by replicating the poppy fund and selling shamrocks on St. Patrick’s Day.

The building turned 50 years old on St. Patrick’s Day this year, and the CCA is mindful of ensuring there will always be spaces for seniors who need them.

“We are operating our buildings in a sustainable manner so we can replace them as we move forward and as they age out,” Garisto says.

“Our wish is always to have a replacement building in place for our residents so there is something ready for them in the event the building needs to be updated.”

While many similar member organizations are seeing shrinking enrollment as their members age, the Knights of Columbus continues to grow in numbers and scope of operation.

Christopherson House is perfect for those seniors with smaller pensions or who are on rent subsidy. In addition to affordable living, CCA provides opportunities for seniors to make new friends, enjoy increased daily activities, and enjoy additional peace of mind and personal security.

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