LETTER: Adults with developmental disabilities face serious housing shortage

From a group of Nelson Star readers

We were disappointed and frustrated to read a Sept. 12 article in which Mayor Dooley was quoted as saying “Nelson is already well served in affordable housing with the recent construction of multi-unit buildings at Hall Street…Lakeside…Herridge Places.”

While these do address affordable housing needs in our community, local and provincial governments, Community Living BC (CLBC), BC Housing etc. are not doing enough to meet housing demands for our most vulnerable adults.

We write on behalf of our adult children, who have developmental disabilities or are neurodiverse, and struggle to have a voice. These vulnerable individuals cannot live independently and require supported housing (group home, cluster housing) to achieve some semblance of independence. Due to a lack of suitable housing, they live with aging parents who struggle to provide support. Others have been forced to leave Nelson for group home spaces elsewhere in B.C., with disastrous results and parents desperate to bring them back.

Despite parents advocating CLBC for close to a decade, supported housing options remain to be addressed. This challenge is exacerbated by $375/month allocated for housing as part of B.C. disability benefits. The supported housing shortfall comes as no surprise — in a 2020 report, CLBC estimated that ≥5,000 people in B.C. with developmental disabilities would require housing over the next five years.

In April 2022, Selkirk College’s SOAR students hosted a presentation to promote awareness of the need for local supported housing. Minister Nick Simons, MLA Brittny Anderson, City Councillor Janice Morrison, CLBC facilitator Anna Depretto, and various support and housing agencies attended. Parents continue to meet with these parties to garner support for housing targeting vulnerable adults, with little uptake.

More effort is needed to create supported housing for vulnerable adults. We urge the City of Nelson, B.C. government, CLBC, and other housing and support agencies to acknowledge and work collaboratively to address this glaring housing gap.

Marlene Machmer, Nadine H. Bakas, Mike Bancroft, Allison and Monte Ferraro, Lisa Rezansoff, and Alison Roy