Public forum on challenges of seniors housing set

Bracing For the Baby Boomers – Seniors Housing in Transition will be held Thursday, October 16 at 7 p.m. at Seniors Branch 51.

Bracing For the Baby Boomers – Seniors Housing in Transition is a public forum to be held Thursday, October 16 at 7 p.m. at Seniors Branch 51 (717 Vernon Street) to raise the awareness of the existing and increasing housing and support challenges seniors face as they try to maintain their health and their housing.

“Really we’re potentially talking about the new face of seniors poverty,” said Ann Harvey, Community Coordinator of the Nelson Committee on Homelessness.

The panel will feature Dr. Janice Murphy, known locally for her research on seniors in the West Kootenay, Joan Reichardt, Chair of Seniors Coordinating Society and Councillor Donna Macdonald.

Dr. Murphy will give the big picture of senior’s demographics and the impact baby boomers and public policy will have on both shaping and burdening services and affordable support and housing options are available for seniors. Reichardt will highlight what groups are doing to provide and find supports for seniors to maintain their health and housing, and Councillor Macdonald will speak on the City of Nelson and its Housing Committee’s work.

“Forty per cent of seniors living alone in BC live below the poverty line,” said Harvey.  “Some have to make the choice between

paying the rent or eating. This puts them at risk of losing their housing.”

The Nelson Committee on Homelessness sixth annual report card showed that 1 in 5 recipients of food at the Nelson Food Cupboard and Our Daily Bread were seniors.

In BC, one in five seniors rent their home.  “Although the Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters (SAFER) increased by nine per cent  this year, it still doesn’t reflect the 23 per cent increase rents have experienced in BC since 2005,” said Harvey.

Harvey states many baby boomers who are retiring may be in for a rude awakening when they make the transition from employment to pension income or need to downsize their housing.

Vacancy rates are still below three per cent (a “healthy” vacancy rate) and almost non-existent for affordable units, says Harvey.

“There is still not enough appropriate or supportive affordable housing in Nelson to meet the demand.”

The public forum is one of the events of Homelessness Action Week October 12 to 18 hosted by the Nelson Committee on Homelessness. Visit the Facebook page to find out more.

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