Some of the buildings operated by the Langley Lions Senior Citizens Housing Society (LLSCHS). Dan Ferguson Langley Times

Advocacy group pushes for more housing supports for ‘vulnerable’ seniors

LSCAT report outlines residents’ fears about ‘mixed tenancy’ at Lions Society housing

  • Oct. 12, 2018 2:30 p.m.

Miranda Fatur

Times Reporter

Some Langley seniors are being made to feel uncomfortable in their own homes, according to a recent report by the Langley Seniors Community Action Table.

Since January, LSCAT has been advocating on behalf of residents at the Langley Lions Senior Citizens Housing Society, who say living alongside people with mental health and addictions issues is making them fearful.

LSCAT released a report on Oct. 3 outlining the residents’ concerns.

Members of the LSCAT, Leslie Gaudette and Kathy Reddington collected the data and co-authored the report with members of the LSCAT throughout the summer.

“As we delved into it more, we realized it’s as much a public health problem as a housing problem. We felt as Fraser Health places some tenants in the complex, they might have an interest in understanding better what the end result was.”

Gaudette presented the report titled, Impact of Housing First and Supportive Housing on Frail Seniors: Spotlight on a Langley Social Housing Complex, at the Fraser Health public board meeting on Oct. 3.

The report explains that the non-profit Langley Lions Senior Citizens Housing Society complex has been co-housing Fraser Health’s supportive housing clients together with “vulnerable, frail, low-income seniors.”

In an email statement, Fraser Health communications Jacqueline Blackwell, outlined how many units are occupied by clients of Fraser Health at the Lions Housing.

“Fraser Health contracts 58 subsidized Assisted Living units in one of those buildings. The Fraser Health Acquired Brain Injury program also supports 29 clients on the campus. The program provides brain injury clients with daily on-site support. Since 2009, Fraser Health has supported up to 25 people with mental health and substance use issues with on-site support seven days a week.”

According to the LSCAT report, the clients Fraser Health places at the Lions Housing often create a ‘mixed tenancy’ housing model that results in seniors living in fear.

Gaudette and her team created a profile of the approximately 400 seniors living at the Lions Housing that revealed 41 per cent feel unsafe.

READ MORE: Seniors group looking for solution to issue of mentally ill in Langley housing project

This fear stems from alleged aggressive behaviours displayed by some Lions tenants who suffer mental health and substance abuse issues.

“What we feel is happening is that people who need a significant amount of support to be housed are ending up in the Lions. They’re not getting the support they need to live independently. Fraser Health is involved directly in some cases and indirectly in other cases. So you end up with a mix of people,” explained Gaudette.

Blackwell said Fraser Health clients who live with mental health and substance use challenges are “not unlike other people living in our communities who are successfully managing their illness.”

“We also perform rigorous risk assessments as part of a robust screening process to ensure that the people we support in these independent living units are not a risk to themselves or anyone else,” wrote Blackwell.

Gaudette made reference to one tenant who told her she has to peer out her door before taking the elevator to make sure no one is there that ‘she doesn’t want to deal with.’

“I’m in favour of Housing First. It’s really important to get people off the streets, it’s just how do you make sure you’re not creating problems somewhere else,” Gaudette said.

“We asked them (Fraser Health) to listen to the voices of the senior tenants, we asked that the board review the report and all the recommendations and we asked that they report back and provide solutions and recommendations to community partners. We asked them to take a population approach and ensure that a range of resources be available on site to improve the health and well being of this vulnerable population.”

Blackwell confirmed they have met with the LSCAT several times and are “committed to working with them and will be facilitating another opportunity for further discussion with all of the stakeholders.”

Fraser Health said if a concern was brought forward by a tenant, it would go through the Langley Lions Senior Citizens Housing Society first.

Currently, Fraser Health said they have not received any specific complaints from the Lions Housing Society related to Fraser Health clients.

The Langley Lions Senior Citizens Housing Society did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Times.

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