Senior homelessness

Sgt. Sheri Tate, DRPSBy Sergeant Sheri Tate/DRPS

Lately myself and Tammy Rankin, the senior safety advisor for the Region of Durham, have been assisting many seniors who have faced eviction from their residences.

There are many reasons why these evictions have occurred and often mental health issues are one of the root causes. Here are few brief examples:

  • A paranoid senior would not allow the spraying of her residence for bedbugs and this resulted in an eviction
  • A senior was not capable of keeping his home clean and due to hoarding issues and terrible smells from the residence, this resulted in an evicted
  • A senior could no longer afford his rent
  • A senior was being wrongfully evicted without proper cause and without the proper paperwork being filed with the landlord tenant board
  • Senior financially abused by a telephone fraud/ scam and did not pay rent.

Myself and/or Tammy Rankin try to intervene prior to the eviction to prevent the homeless but we are not always able to stop it. We also try to get other community services involved to prevent the eviction.

As you can imagine, an elderly homeless senior generates many calls for police to intervene. There are not many shelters in Durham Region where seniors are able to go for various reasons. In one homeless shelter, the seniors must be able to open a heavy door to be accepted. In another shelter, the senior must be able to go up and down stairs freely without assistance or they will not be accepted. If the senior’s mental health issues fit the criteria then hospitals may keep them there under the mental health act but we have not seen this in our cases.

Sometimes, the seniors can access short term stays through the Region of Durham hotel program. Another problem is that a shelter may accept a senior in need or bend the rules but there are no beds available.

Finding appropriate housing is very difficult and even when a viable home is available, many landlords will not rent to seniors due to them not having the proper references or not having good credit scores due to their age and associated risk.

Homelessness is a very difficult situation to resolve in a timely fashion. Luckily, Tammy and I are able to access charitable funds from the Durham Elder Abuse Network (DEAN), which gives us some time to collaborate with other community agencies such as John Howard Society, the YWCA and the Community Development Council of Durham to find them shelter.

Durham Region needs a shelter that is specific to the unique needs of older adults.

If you have any questions or comments please feel free to call myself or Tammy Rankin from the Region of Durham.

Sgt. Sheri Tate
Badge 632
905-579-1520 ext. 6234