Residents ‘cautious optimists’ hearing homes for mental illness will reopen after repairs IG News

IG News Updates,

it’s part of the story situation criticalA series from CBC British Columbia reporting on the barriers faced by the people of this province in receiving timely and appropriate health care.

A stylized phrase reading 'SITUATION CRITICAL', designed to read like a red heartbeat monitor.

A B.C. assisted-living facility for people with serious mental illnesses is no longer facing permanent closure, following a CBC report on concerns from a tighter group of friends living there.

Residents of Lena Place in New Westminster say they learned the news Tuesday afternoon at a meeting with representatives from Fraser Health and the Pioneer Community Living Association, which operates the facility.

They were told that they would have to move out temporarily even when the house was closed for necessary repairs, but they would eventually be allowed back if they wished.

“We were cautiously optimistic. Yes, we won the fight, but there’s still a long way to go to get to the end,” said resident Jeff McPherson.

In July, 11 residents of Lena’s Place were given notice that the duplex would close permanently within a year and then be sold by BC Housing “based on the need for a new building and with more options in housing programs.” for funding.”

Residents who spoke with CBC said they consider each other family and fear they may split up and move out of New Westminster. They were told that their future plans would be worked out in person before Lena Place closed in July 2023.

Fraser Health spokesman Dixon Tam wrote in an email that the plan is now for everyone to find alternative housing while the building is being assessed and repaired, and then all of them will be in the home in the first place, when it is safe. .

He added that “Lena Place has several building deficiencies that could negatively affect the health of residents,” but none will lose their current services and support.

“It’s too soon to confirm a timeline for when Lena’s location will be safe for residents to return,” Tam said.

No reason given for the change in plans

McPherson said residents and staff have sought assurances in writing that they will be allowed to return to Lena’s place, and they are still seeking specifics on the problems at home.

He said his housewife, Alison Chow, spoke at Tuesday’s meeting and asked, “Is this all happening because we went to the media?”

According to McPherson, no one directly answered the question.

A young East Asian woman with glasses and long hair stands in front of a green hedge.
Alison Chow is one of 11 people who live at Lena Place, an assisted-living facility for people with mental illnesses in New Westminster, BC. (Justin Bolin/CBC)

Fraser Health has yet to respond to requests for more information about the change in plans.

Meanwhile, family members have filed a Freedom of Information request for an engineering report that identifies specific problems with the building and the estimated cost to repair them.

Ahead of the decision to reopen Lena Place, BC Housing has said that proceeds from selling the duplex will be reinvested in new services in the area.

According to BC assessment records, the 21-year-old structure has more than quadrupled in value since it was purchased in 2002, and taken together, both sides of the duplex are valued at approximately $2.6 million.

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