Labrador West is aging. Why is there no housing reserved for the elderly?

The Labrador West Housing and Homelessness Coalition offers 10 affordable housing units in the area, but all have been sold out since inception. (SRC)

Newfoundland and Labrador Seniors Minister said the province is working to address concerns about the lack of suitable housing in western Labrador, but that a tangible solution could take years.

Minister John Abbott, who also heads the Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation, called senior housing in Labrador an “emerging” and “important” problem in an interview on Wednesday.

There are currently no retirement homes or long-term care homes in the area, nor any housing specifically for the elderly in Labrador West. In order to get the care they need, seniors will often have to leave their communities or move in with their families.

“[My mother] has to live with me because she has nowhere to go, ”said Della Ward, a resident of Labrador West. “I think she would love to be alone, but she just has nowhere to go.

According to Nicole Young, board member of the Labrador West Housing and Homelessness Coalition, the current housing shortage is the latest example of a cycle that Labrador West is familiar with.

Towns like Labrador City and Wabush were incorporated in the 1960s, mostly built to service nearby iron mines and a young workforce. Aging populations and fluctuating ore prices often have an impact on the type of housing available, Young said.

“We live in a booming and slowing economy, and right now we’re in a boom,” Young said.

Nicole Young is a member of the board of directors of the Labrador West Housing and Homelessness Coalition. (Leslie Amminson / CBC)

“When something becomes available, it’s not affordable because the demand is so high… For middle to low income people, it’s just not something that can be affordable.”

The Housing and Homelessness Coalition currently offers 10 affordable housing units in Labrador West, but Young said all units have been full since they opened. Staying in a hotel is also often irrelevant, as many hotels in the area are booked by contractors to accommodate iron ore workers.

The lack of options contributes to what Young calls “hidden homelessness,” as people stay on sofas with relatives or leave the area in search of housing.

“When it’s not in your face, there’s less pressure to fix the problem. But it’s definitely something we see quite often here,” she said.

Government “examines all options”: Abbott

Abbott said he sees the lack of senior housing in the province as “probably one of our biggest challenges right now across the province,” and the problem is particularly noticeable in smaller communities.

He said the province was working on a housing and homelessness plan to help resolve the issue, but warned that a solution was not imminent.

“We’re probably talking about several years right now. Unless the private sector finds a way to come forward where we can help them provide rent supplements and that sort of thing for the elderly,” he said. -he declares.

John Abbott, Minister of Children, Seniors and Social Development, has said affordable housing for seniors is a top priority for his department. (Terry Roberts / CBC)

“We have to figure out how to fill this gap so that the elderly can age in place. This is definitely what we want as a government… it will be a big job for governments in the future.”

For now, Abbott has said his ministry is focused on finding the full range of services needed in the region and across the province to get a sense of the scale of the problem.

“If you look at Labrador West with the lack of personal care homes or even long-term care facilities, there is an urgent need and demand for senior housing that can be accessible and allow seniors to live. independently and at an affordable cost, ”he said.

“We are looking at all options to make sure we can put housing in place as soon as possible. “

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