‘I don’t feel safe’: Halifax senior on living in a provincially managed housing complex – Halifax

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Residents and family members of an independent senior living complex in Halifax are raising concerns about safety issues and want the provincial housing authority to take action.

They claim that people who don’t even live in the building are coming in and harassing the residents.

“I don’t feel safe,” said 95-year-old Winnifred Bowden.

Bowden lives in the building on Devonshire Avenue in Halifax, managed by the Nova Scotia Provincial Housing Agency (NSPHA). She has lived there for almost forty years, but in recent years she has noticed that things have deteriorated.

Her son, Joe Bowden, says the complaints range from non-residents wandering the halls late at night to unhoused people sleeping in common areas and even confrontations between tenants.

“There were incidents where people were knocking on the door late at night and early in the morning and we discovered it was a lady across the hall who had dementia,” he said.

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“And recently, I think, it got to the point where some people in the building were afraid to walk down the hallway because they thought they might be accosted or who knows what might happen.”

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Instead of feeling like her home is a sanctuary, the senior says she dreads being there.

‘I’ll tell you one thing. When I open my door, I don’t go to the elevator. I’m afraid. Not just me. The other people here are afraid of what they will encounter when they go out,” she said.

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“When I go home with my daughter and we are out all day, I hate coming back here.”

Nova Scotia Provincial Housing Agency responds

Pamela Menchenton, executive director of customer service at the NSPHA, confirms that they have received complaints from tenants of this particular building and that the agency takes security and safety “incredibly seriously.”

“This is a priority of ours. Everyone deserves to feel safe in their own home, just like you and me. And as a landlord, we are taking steps to ensure this is the case for all of our tenants,” she said.

“When something like this happens to us again, it’s a conversation with a tenant to find out what’s going on and to address concerns.”

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Menchenton says there are tools the NSPHA uses, including remote security cameras and security personnel. She added that they would consider installing cameras in the building, but that a “privacy impact assessment” would have to be carried out first.

“We obviously also have the ability to cooperate with law enforcement if necessary. So we have all these tools at our disposal when there are concerns about safety, security, additional lighting and so on in the building,” she said.

But the Bowdens say they feel their complaints are not being taken seriously because little has changed. Although the authority has offered to move Winnifred to another building, she has declined, saying she does not necessarily want to leave her home. She just wants her safety to be assured.

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“Does it take someone to be killed…or physically, sexually abused or something to get them to respond?” said Joe.

Winnifred has another word: “disappointed.”

“I’m disappointed in them because they don’t care about us,” she said.

“We are seniors and this time of our lives we should live comfortably and not be afraid.”

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