Agencies join to provide seniors’ housing
When Kamloops’ newest emergency shelter opened in the former Rendezvous Hotel, Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) executive director Doug Sage wasn’t sure women would want to stay there.
While Emerald Centre contained more beds for women than the CMHA had offered in past — up to 12 from eight — Sage said he thought the site’s history as a strip joint and gang hangout might drive women away.
Instead, there are arriving at the centre than ever, Sage told the city’s co-ordinated enforcement task force at a meeting this week.
And, lately, more are seniors.
It’s a trend he expects to continue and one he and the Kamloops Seniors Outreach Society (SOS) are looking to do something to solve.
The two groups are in negotiations to take over operation of Westsyde’s Cariboo Manor to offer housing to low-income and at-risk seniors.
“It’s housing that’s supportive so, for seniors who can manage somewhat on their own, but they get the supports of meals and housekeeping,” said SOS executive director Suzan Goguen.
Housing services for at-risk seniors is a relatively new part of SOS programming, but the society already uses two CMHA suites to provide emergency housing to its clients.
While the new plan isn’t finalized yet, Goguen said the organizations hope to be running Cariboo Place by October.
From there, they hope to expand services on the site, which currently offers housing for up to 12 residents.
“It’s a large piece of property so, we’re hoping to add to what is there to meet the need in the community,” she said.
Sage said a lack of affordable housing is the chief reason seniors end up at Emerald Centre.
“It’s not about drug addiction or sex-trade work. It’s just simple economics,” he said.
“They can’t afford the housing they’re in, especially if they are stay-at-home wives their whole lives — and that generation frequently has been. Their husbands die and they lose pension benefits and they lose income and they can’t sustain themselves.”
While he couldn’t speak to specific numbers, Sage said the number of seniors using CMHA shelters is about double what it was a few years ago.
“I think it’s a trend that’s going to continue as the population ages and as also seniors can’t afford the housing they’re in,” he said.
“Their incomes are static, but their costs are going up.”