‘I’m feeling abandoned’: Seniors fed up with P.E.I. government’s lack of action on issues in public housing
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CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. — After years of complaints about unmaintained buildings, a scarcity of safety and unsafe dwelling circumstances, residents at two of P.E.I.’s senior dwelling complexes are fed up with the province’s lack of solutions.
At a March 2 assembly between residents of Charlottetown’s Champion Court docket and Haviland Court docket seniors dwelling complexes, residents spoke out concerning the province’s inaction over time to handle a number of points current on the public housing buildings it owns.
“I’m feeling deserted,” stated Champion Court docket resident Wayne Casford in an interview following the assembly.
“The housing division tried to inform me they have been prioritizing these buildings and I ended them and stated don’t inform me about it, do it. After I see motion and outcomes, then they will speak to me, however proper now, speak is reasonable.”
The problems the residents are fed up with are the identical points SaltWire Community has reported on a number of instances since late 2021 involving a number of provincially-owned seniors dwelling complexes throughout the Island.
These points embody unmaintained properties, damaged safety techniques, abuse of medication and alcohol on the premises, residents being assaulted and non-residents getting into or breaking into buildings to sleep.
Casford, who has taken on the function of safety for his constructing, stated regardless of quite a few complaints to the Division of Social Improvement and Housing (SD&H), which owns and runs Champion Court docket, Haviland Court docket and several other different seniors dwelling complexes throughout the province, virtually nothing will get performed.
“We shouldn’t have these issues to begin. The standard of dwelling is down drastically, however we glance after ourselves as a result of that’s what we’ve got to do,” he stated.
At Champion Court docket, the largest points are safety and security. On the assembly, many residents stated they’re having points with non-residents, who they imagine to be purchasers of the Group Outreach Centre, both being let into the constructing or breaking into the constructing.
This has led residents to lock down the constructing’s frequent space, leaving them unable to make use of the areas to socialize.
“We used to love utilizing them, we might sit down, play playing cards, speak,” stated Casford. “The place is our high quality of dwelling? We don’t have one right here at Champion Court docket. I can communicate to anybody within the constructing, and they’re going to inform me the identical factor.”
Some residents stated these people are typically confrontational when requested why they’re there, with one resident noting he was lately assaulted.
Exterior of safety and security, residents additionally famous getting something fastened or repaired is typically unimaginable, with points taking weeks, if not months, to be addressed.
“Each time we name housing, they offer us the identical reply. ‘We’re engaged on it,’” stated Casford. “There are lots of people who had ceilings falling down for greater than a yr, and so they didn’t repair them.”
At Haviland Court docket, the state of affairs is far the identical. Throughout the assembly, Marion Ennever, a resident of Haviland Court docket, talked a few state of affairs the place a resident was coping with a bedbug infestation.
Regardless of speedy calls to SD&H, Ennever stated nobody confirmed up for almost every week to cope with the bedbugs, permitting them to unfold to different items. In an interview following the assembly, she stated that form of response is par for the course.
“Fairly often, there is no such thing as a one who’s accountable who will say sure, we are going to repair that or no, we gained’t,” stated Ennever. “They simply don’t appear to reply, and for those who make a telephone name to inform them about an issue throughout the constructing, it takes perpetually for one thing to be performed.”
Ennever stated the division sometimes solely responds when a disaster occurs, nonetheless, even that’s onerous to get. Throughout Fiona, the emergency lights at Haviland weren’t operational. Ultimately, they have been fastened, however by the native hearth division.
Ennever stated their frequent room has additionally been closed for months attributable to injury, with no perception provided to residents as to when it’ll reopen.
One factor each buildings have in frequent is they’re each getting used to accommodate folks from emergency shelters rather than transitional housing, or these in want of psychological well being and addictions help, residents stated.
“Time and again, I’ve made the purpose that there are folks in these housing buildings that ought to be in group houses,” stated Darryl Flanagan, a resident of Haviland, in the course of the assembly. “They shouldn’t be right here. We would not have the capability or the experience to take care of them.”
Fed up with the inaction by the federal government, Flanagan urged attainable motion to get the province’s consideration.
“Since we’ve been going again and again for years with the identical routine and inaction, perhaps it is perhaps time for us to get collectively and take into account a rental boycott,” he stated to an eruption of cheers from the residents.
After the assembly, Flanagan stated whereas he solely threw the thought on the market as a suggestion, he believes it is perhaps the one solution to get the province to hearken to their issues.
“Cash not solely talks, it screams. If the province begins dropping lease, they are going to sit down and search for,” he stated. “The province can attempt to cope with it no matter method they need, however they will’t put us all out on the road.”
SaltWire Community requested an interview on March 2 with Social Improvement and Housing minister Matthew MacKay, nonetheless, have been supplied with an emailed assertion as an alternative. In it, MacKay stated, “capital repairs and upkeep of government-owned housing is likely one of the division’s high priorities over the approaching months.”
When requested what speedy modifications they want to see from the province, Casford, Ennever and Flanagan all stated the identical factor – they need safety, and so they need to really feel secure, one thing many residents haven’t felt in years.
“I’m feeling drained. It’s sporting down on me,” stated Casford. “I’m 75, some days I simply need to stop the entire thing and say I am performed. However I can’t. I’ve tasks to folks on this constructing and I’m making an attempt to make it higher.”
Cody McEachern is a enterprise reporter with the SaltWire Community in Prince Edward Island. He could be reached by electronic mail at [email protected] and adopted on Twitter @CodyInHiFi.