“Highly overblown” is how one resident of a Langley City housing complex views the controversy that has developed over moving mentally ill people and recovering addicts into a facility that was originally built to accommodate seniors and people with physical disabilities.
Darrell (who asked that his last name not be used) was reacting to reports that some older residents of the buildings managed by the Langley Lions Seniors’ Housing Society have become fearful because of incidents of bad behavior by mentally ill residents.
“I’m walking around the whole complex all the time,” said Darrell, a 55-year-old man who is on a disability pension because of a cranial brain hemorrhage that left him with mobility issues.
“I don’t see this catastrophic, apocalyptic (situation) … I’ve actually recommended this place.”
He said he has spoken to other residents, who were as “puzzled” as he was about the reported problems.
Darrell defended the managers of the housing complex, saying the facility was better-run than other places he’s called home.
“It has been my experience that the building (I live in) and the surrounding area is very well kept, including that there are maintenance and cleaning persons in the building everyday,” he said in a letter to the society that he shared with the Times.
“I believe that the landlord and the programs on site do a good job and I am not writing this as a brownnoser …” the letter added.
As for the suggestion that some residents were afraid to complain about the incidents for fear of retaliation, Darrell said he has never experienced push-back when he has makes complaints about other problems.
Concerning reports that some residents have barricaded themselves in their suites and are afraid to come out because of incidents of unsettling behavior, Darrell said those kind of encounters can happen anywhere.
“I call it real life,” he said.
He said that he doesn’t dispute the residents’ accounts of the incidents, but feels viewing them as threats to personal safety was an overreaction.
Darrell’s comments came after a Times story about a meeting of the Langley Seniors Community Action Table (LSCAT) was told that police often have to be called to deal with unruly behavior in the Lions complex.
“Very young, hard-to-house young males, who are severely mentally ill” is how one resident, who asked not to be named, described the situation.
The residents reported incidents of loud outbursts in common areas and one occasion where a person reportedly kicked a washing machine while a senior was trying to do laundry.
“My building is probably the most attended (by police) in Langley City,” the resident said.
A report on the situation by the chair of the action table housing committee, Kiernan Hillan and action table member Leslie Gaudette said a Jan. 17 meeting with all involved about the issue did made some progress, but finding a quick solution was unlikely.
Another action-table-brokered stakeholders meeting was expected in about two weeks.
The action table is a group of community members, service organizations and individuals that has the stated goal of facilitating “seniors’ mobilization, leadership and involvement” in the community and to “recognize and respond to local issue and opportunities.”
It usually meets on the third Wednesday of the month at the Langley Senior Resources Society centre at 20605 51B Ave.