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Advocate worries Langley seniors complex becoming a ‘Riverview satellite’

An advocate for seniors wants Fraser Health to stop placing young people with mental health and addiction problems in a complex run by the Langley Lions Senior Citizens Housing Society.

“Residents are frightened,” said Kory Down. “Housing the mentally ill and addicts with fragile seniors amounts to authoritative abuse of seniors.”

The Lions complex on 203 Street behind the Langley Mall has provided affordable housing to seniors and people with disabilities since the 1970s, according to the society’s website. It was founded with the vision of “providing affordable housing to seniors.” Seven buildings contain 625 units, including 58 assisted living units.

Fraser Health confirmed 25 mental health clients have been placed in the independent living units through its mental health and substance use program. An official could not confirm the ages of the residents, but she said Fraser Health has never received a complaint about its clients there.

“It’s not unlike anyone else living in the community. They’re living among people in the complex — the same as they would be in the community,” said Jacqueline Blackwell.

A risk assessment and application process is completed before a person is placed at the Lions complex. Each of the 25 residents is supported by a case manager and an on-site contractor that has been hired by Fraser Health to provide services to its clients at the complex.

Postmedia spoke to two seniors who live at the complex and objected to the influx of people in their 20s and 30s. Neither wanted to give their name for fear of repercussions from their neighbours and complex’s management.

A 65-year-old woman said she felt “duped” after moving into what she thought was a seniors village. Several months ago, she was in the building’s laundry room when a man came in and began kicking the washing machines, she said. He made a lewd comment before she was able to leave.

A 78-year-old man said young people “come and go” from the buildings at all hours of the day and night.

The seniors took their concerns to management last year, as well as to the Langley Seniors Community Action Table. The action group raised the issue at a meeting at Langley Memorial Hospital on Dec. 6, which was attended by representatives from Fraser Health, the Langley Lions Senior Citizen Housing Society and the Langley Senior Resources Society.

According to an email summary of the meeting obtained by Postmedia, the issue of safety at the Lions complex was discussed, including concerns about “mixing ‘at risk’ tenants with the ‘regular’ seniors population.” In response, the group decided to draft a proposal for a tenants’ council at the Lions complex.

But Down said she’s worried a tenants’ council won’t address the issue. She fears the Lions complex is being used as a “Riverview satellite,” a reference to the former mental health hospital.

“The Lions call themselves a seniors housing society, with an additional focus on people with disabilities,” she said. “It is quite a stretch to say people with serious mental health issues and hard-to-house male drug addicts have disabilities that fit” within that.

In a statement, B.C. Housing said it has an ongoing “funding relationship” with the Langley Lions Senior Citizen Housing Society and will provide the society with $400,000 in subsidies in 2017-18. “The resident selection and tenant mix is determined by the society, providing affordable housing in the immediate area to those in need.”

Postmedia contacted the Langley Lions Senior Citizens Housing Society for comment, but calls and emails were not returned on Thursday and Friday.

gluymes@postmedia.com

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Article source: http://vancouversun.com/news/local-news/advocate-worries-langley-seniors-complex-becoming-a-riverview-satellite

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