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City Funding for Homeless Seniors
For Immediate Release
November 6, 2012
Homeless seniors now have somewhere to turn to for help, thanks to funding from the City of Vancouver, Seniors Services Society (SSS) and The South Granville Seniors Centre (SGSC). With City funding, SSS provides a 1 day a week outreach worker to help seniors stay off the streets or get off the streets. The outreach worker is stationed at SGSC every Tuesday morning to meet seniors who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.
“This new funding is so crucial,” says Anna Truong, the Manager of Housing Services at SSS. “Seniors experiences homelessness very differently than the general homeless population. Becoming homeless for the first time at 60 or 80 years old is very different than someone in their 30s or 40s”
Michael is 60 years old and has been sleeping at homeless shelters for over 3 months but thanks to the help of an outreach worker at SSS, he will be moving into subsidized seniors housing for November 1st. “I would not have found this place to live if it wasn’t for my outreach worker. He really stayed on top of things” states Michael.
The City funded outreach worker will work with homeless and at risk seniors to secure housing. “Seniors really need the one-on-one assistance,” states Truong. “One day a week is not enough to properly address the demands but it’s a great start.”
According to the 2011 Homeless Count, about 100 seniors were found homeless in Vancouver. But according to Truong, the numbers are actually much higher, “A lot of our clients are staying with friends- paying them what they can to sleep on the couch. Or they are spending their life savings in expensive motel rooms, scared and unsure of how to find housing. These seniors are homeless and they are very invisible.”
This is a story that Michael is familiar with. “I was paying a lot to stay at the Patricia Hotel until money ran out and I didn’t know where to go,” says Michael. “I really like this new place I will be moving into.”
According to Clemencia Gomez, the Executive Director of the South Granville Seniors Centre, “We are seeing more people between 55 to 65 years old who have no financial stability and have difficulty finding a job. They also do not qualify for support from the government and so cannot afford to rent an apartment in Vancouver, and are at risk of losing their homes. I have encountered many of these seniors using their credit cards or bank lines of credit to pay their rent every month.”
Last year, SSS talked to almost 400 seniors in Metro Vancouver who were homeless or at risk. “The numbers are staggering,” says Truong. “With only 1 day a week, our outreach worker can help house about 3-4 seniors in a year.”
Seniors can reach the Homeless Senior Outreach Worker at SGSC on Tuesday mornings or call (604) 732-0812.