January 8, 2018 10:08 pm
Updated: January 8, 2018 10:29 pm

Langley seniors live ‘in fear’ as they share building with people with mental health issues

There are serious concerns about the safety of a Langley housing complex built for seniors and people with disabilities. John Hua explains why some tenants are now barring their doors.


Advocates are sounding the alarm over a decision by Fraser Health to house people with mental health and addiction issues in a housing complex run by the Langley Lions Senior Citizens Housing Society.

Kory Down said she has heard from residents who say they no longer feel safe.

“I heard from one resident who has told me that he no longer goes down to the laundry room because he’s afraid,” she said.

“One lady was confronted down there by a fellow with schizophrenia. He now hand-washes his laundry and has been doing so for months.”

She went on to say “residents are putting chairs up against the doors at night because there will be people going down and trying the door knobs. For their own safety, they’re trying to lock themselves in.”

WATCH: Coquitlam mayor calls for speedy renewal of mental health and addiction services at Riverview Hospital

Down said some older residents feel “they were duped.”

“They felt they were moving into a facility for seniors and now they’re finding they have mentally ill and hard-to-house drug addicts as well,” she said.

Fraser Health confirmed there are currently 21 mental health and addictions clients living at the complex and they have received no complaints regarding their clients.

READ MORE: Funeral visit prompts plea from Coquitlam mayor to revive Riverview Hospital

“Assessments are completed to ensure that they are appropriate and that they would be successful in those environments,” Fraser Health spokesperson Tasleem Juma said.

But one resident, who only wanted to be identified as Paul, said “nobody gets checked out.”

He said he has to protect seniors in an environment where drugs and theft are rampant.

WATCH: Mental health crisis reaching a tipping point in B.C.

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“I feel sad for them, I’m afraid for them,” he said of seniors living at the complex.

“I’ve been trying to fight crime as long as I’ve been here, but you report and they turn around and rat you out,” Paul said.

Residents said complaints haven’t been made because of a fear of consequences from building management.

Interview requests to the Langley Lions Senior Citizens Housing Society were not answered.

Early in December, seniors took their concerns to the building management but said nothing has been done to improve the situation.

Laura Forrest, a former Riverview Hospital employee, has friends in the building and acknowledges that mental health and addictions clients need somewhere to go, but said mixing them with seniors makes little sense.

“That wasn’t the intention of the seniors’ buildings,” she said. “They were to allow seniors to live quietly and with some relative security.”

READ MORE: Riverview Hospital site to see new centre for adults with mental health and addiction challenges

In a statement to Global News, the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions said:

“Mental health and substance use challenges affect many British Columbians, and people receive the care and treatment they need in a variety of services and facilities. This includes facilities around the province that provide care and support to people at various stages of life.

“Although the residents at the Langley Lions Senior Citizens Housing Society are predominantly seniors, it is within the society’s purview to determine resident selection and tenant mix, in order to meet the affordable housing needs of the community.

“There are multiple buildings at this site with different criteria, resulting in a mix of residents.”

With the senior and mental health and addictions populations both expected to grow, some worry similar living arrangements are here to stay.

“It’s affecting their health, their stress levels, sleeping, they are living constantly in fear,” Down said of seniors she has heard from.

“Nobody wants to live that way.”

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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