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Cranbrook council to advocate for low-income senior housing

Cranbrook city council will send a letter urging the provincial government to consider the city’s need for low-income housing for seniors.

City officials said the letter will be sent to Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Housing with a copy to Tom Shypitka, MLA Kootenay East.

The document will aim to highlight the impacts the housing crisis is having on Cranbrook, specifically the senior population.

“Seniors are very vulnerable to unstable housing as fixed incomes do not accommodate the increasing costs of living,” said city council documents. “Cranbrook’s seniors have not escaped this growing concern and more frequently we are hearing about seniors without not only stable housing, but any housing at all.”

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According to Cranbrook officials, the issue is exasperated by the lack of housing options.

“Currently, Cranbrook has one temporary shelter site, the Travelodge. By nature, temporary shelters are meant to be an entry point into the housing continuum and thus are low barrier, fully supported, and meant to be short-term,” said city council documents.

“Unfortunately, due to many factors including the pandemic, increased need, and lack of alternative housing options, this temporary shelter site has become permanent housing for more than 50 individuals.”

City officials said as of June 27, 2023, 24 of Travelodge residents are seniors. This makes up 40 per cent of the shelter’s total population.

Council documents also highlighted specific incidents that happened in the community in recent weeks.

“There has been one report of an 85 yr. old female being evicted from her home,” said city officials. “She showed up at the local Food Bank stating she had secured a tent and was intending to move into the woods.”

“There has been one 75-year-old female residing on Ridgeview for at least three nights until she was assaulted and her possessions stolen,” said council documents. “She was taken into the Travelodge with an understanding she must leave by August 30th, 2023.”

The motion also includes a call to action for MLA Shypitka to speak up and advocate for the community.

“In a recent town hall, MLA Tom Shypitka spoke to the issue that seniors with low incomes are accessing alternate housing options such as the Travel Lodge and noting that a lack of low-income housing is a significant concern in Cranbrook,” said council documents.

“This presents as an opportune moment for City Council to request MLA Shypitka endorse and advocate for Provincial Government and BC Housing to respond to the urgent need in Cranbrook for low-income senior housing.”

City officials said low-income housing for seniors will ensure they are not forced into a temporary homeless shelter.

It will also free up spaces at the shelter for unhoused people living in encampments.

“At this time there are extremely limited shelter spaces for unhoused individuals to access, as the first stage on the housing continuum, when they are ready to move into more stable which would decrease the visible homelessness in the City,” said council documents.

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