Some seniors in Langley are living without a permanent address. These individuals are not living the dream of exploring the world in a motor-home, instead they couch surf or take refuge at homeless shelters in order to stay off the street and out of the elements. Some aren’t even that lucky.
According to Kathy Reddington, co-chair of Langley Seniors Community Action Table (LSCAT), the last homeless count in Langley in 2014 found that of 92 homeless individuals, 14 were seniors. A number she is certain is now higher.
“Those numbers are going to be higher this year in 2017,” she said. “I’m positive.”
In addition to homelessness, many seniors face the challenges of increasing rents while living on a fixed income. Reddington said rent is going up an average of 4 per cent per year.
“Seniors income is not going up by four per cent per year,” she noted. “They are getting behind more and more every year.”
These issues and others around seniors’ housing and homelessness are expected to be raised at a panel discussion on Tuesday, Jan. 17, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. at the Langley Senior Resources Centre at 20605 51B Ave.
It was the office of deputy premier and minister responsible for housing, Rich Coleman, that approached LSCAT about the topic and an interest in speaking to the volunteer group’s more than 200 members.
Instead of having only Coleman speak, LSCAT joined forces with Langley Senior Resources Society, the South Fraser Chapter of CARP and Triple A Senior Housing (an organization created by all three senior-focused groups) to put on a panel discussion about the issues facing seniors in the Langley region.
Panelists will make a brief presentation before the session is opened to questions. Presenters include: Rich Coleman, Township of Langley mayor Jack Froese, City of Langley mayor Ted Schaffer, Brian Dodd executive director Seniors Services Society and Roz Bailey president Surrey Manufactured Home Owners Association.
“A lot is heard about in terms of Vancouver, but we thought that people in Langley would be interested in hearing about the reality in Langley,” Reddington said. “We’re looking at the crisis in rent affordability.”
Another issue of affordability comes about when seniors are house poor. They own a home but on their current level of income, can’t maintain it and therefore can’t afford to stay in it. They are pushed into the rent market according to Reddington. She also raised the concern that mobile home parks are being eliminated to accommodate development and are removing a potentially affordable housing option for some seniors.
“They are wonderful neighbourhood communities and yet these properties are being developed for other purposes,” she said.
The panel discussion is open to the public and is likely to be of interest to seniors, family members of seniors, care-givers and others involved in the senior community.
Reddington believes positive action can come out of the panel if the right questions are asked.
“If we ask questions and we get answers that are something that we can understand and they sound like they are doable, or that progress is being made, then we can pull something out of this panel,” she said. “It’s one thing we can focus on that we believe will improve the lives of seniors in the community in terms of housing and homelessness.”
For more information about the panel session, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.