Comox Valley Elders Take Action held a public event in Comox to find out what housing means to people. Photo by Mike Chouinard

Comox Valley Elders Take Action held a public event in Comox to find out what housing means to people. Photo by Mike Chouinard

Comox Valley ETA tackles seniors’ housing need

“As elders, we want to be able to make those decisions ourselves.”

A Comox Valley seniors’ group is advocating for more housing for older residents in the community.

Elders Take Action (ETA) has been prompted by increasing cases of senior residents being left out in the cold when it comes to having a place to live.

For some, this means finding space at emergency shelters or even facing the prospect of sleeping in their vehicle. If someone has a place to live, the cost can be so high, it forces them to cut back on other necessities.

In light of this, ETA held an outreach event at the Comox Marina’s Spinnaker Sail Building on Tuesday afternoon, along with a meeting. They had an information table set up with resources and were surveying people about the issues.

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ETA has worked on various issues, but for this event the focus was on housing, especially on how people can age in place. Jennifer Pass, the head of ETA, said she was prompted to get involved at first when looking into care for parents, and she realized that even for her, a retired lawyer, it can be difficult to negotiate the system, but the group’s aim is to look for ways for seniors to be able to live at home as long as they wish.

“As elders, we want to be able to make those decisions ourselves,” she said.

Sally Rondow, one of the ETA organizers of the event, said she spoke to a social worker at the hospital who had told her it can be difficult to connect people with the services they need. Housing, for some, is becoming an emergency.

One of the key questions from the event was to get a sense of what home means and how aging in place can be affected by issues such as mobility, safety, family issues, upkeep and security.

“Home is different things to different people,” she said.

The group also had resources on hand for people, including a provincial government guide for seniors. As well, ETA has put out its own resource handbook with local information.

There were also members of other organizations helping people in need on hand for the event, including the local St. Vincent de Paul organization.

Francois Clavel says the group has been helping people with matters such as groceries, but again, he reiterates a concern expressed by others about the seniors’ housing crisis at a time when accommodations are becoming increasingly unaffordable. This leaves seniors on fixed incomes with tough choices.

“They will cut on medication, they will cut on food,” he said.

Clavel also works with other organizations, including a francophone organization, which can help people needing translation for services.

Mayor Russ Arnott of Comox also stopped by to chat and pointed to the Aspen View development near Quality Foods in Comox, which will include a half dozen units of housing priced below market, as one project that can provide more affordable living space.

“It’ll help keep some of our Comox seniors in the community,” he said.

Anyone wanting more information on ETA can contact passj@telus.net or 250-334-2321.



mike.chouinard@comoxvalleyrecord.com

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The main question for visitors at the ETA event was: What does home mean to you? Photo by Mike Chouinard

The main question for visitors at the ETA event was: What does home mean to you? Photo by Mike Chouinard