Attemdees listen to AFSSC co-ordinator Lea Smirfitt present the results of the society’s local housing report from its review and surveys in May 2017. Carole Rooney photo.

BC Seniors advocate report reflects housing needs

Seniors society in South Cariboo agrees local rental needs will increase down the road

A report released by B.C.’s Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie on Dec. 14 indicates her concerns about the state of housing needs for seniors, a stance a local senior’s advocacy group says applies in 100 Mile House as much as anywhere.

Age-Friendly Society of the South Cariboo (AFSSC) chair Ralph Fossum says there is a shortage of all kinds of rental units, leaving local seniors who need to rent or lease an affordable home in a difficult spot when it comes to finding places to live.

“It’s a competitive market and seniors are subject to that. With less money coming from the SAFER program, and rents going up – and they are – it’s getting more difficult.”

Fossum says this was really impressed upon him last spring when the AFSSC released its own senior’s housing report.

With more than half of the South Cariboo population already over the age of 55, the society chair explains this statistic can only indicate a greater need for seniors housing in the future.

“It [likely] needs to be the private sector that initiates it, because I don’t see any society coming forward that has any money to do it.”

Fossum says he is hoping that some form of funding will come down to encourage developers to go ahead with affordable housing, or that there will be some sort of government program.

“Certainly with our age-friendly movement – while we try not to be very political, I think we need to be very much in the communication business, letting government know that we have a problem coming unless we begin to do something.”

“I appreciate the seniors advocate bringing this forward.

“What’s getting the attention is the Vancouver/Victoria/Lower Mainland marketplace because people [there] can’t afford any kind of rent.”

Communities in the more northern parts of the province have to “beat their drum” to be heard, Fossum says, adding his message to government is the South Cariboo is “a little bit unique,” he explains.

Fossum says with its increase in seniors and the current housing supply shortage in the South Cariboo, it would be a “wonderful place” for our political leaders to start a pilot project.

“If government isn’t sure about how to proceed, then talk to us or we will talk to them to see if we can’t get some kind of a pilot project going because I know the need is there.

“It’s something I want to bring up with both local government and with the Age-Friendly Society, is ‘do we want to go to Victoria and make some kind of a presentation?’ I think we are not very far away from doing that.”

The chair says this is not a protest he is suggesting, but “just to impress upon government that we exist – we’re here.”

Read the BC Seniors Advocate’s report online at www.seniorsadvocatebc.ca/osa-reports/report-monitoring-seniors-services-2017.

The local Age-Friendly society’s report and a condensed summary are at www.100mile house.com/news-and-events.

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