NS seniors sign petition demanding province improve safety in buildings

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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HALIFAX - Hundreds of metro Halifax pensioners living in government seniors' residences have been signing a petition calling on the province to address their concerns about safety in their buildings.
They're convinced some younger tenants, whom the protesters say have emotional problems, are heavily medicated mental health patients who should be under constant supervision.
"The senior residents do not feel safe anymore," says the petition, which has been circulating for several days.
"Many of the (older) residents are afraid to come out of their apartments."
It says their complaints apply to at least four buildings administered by the Metropolitan Regional Housing Authority, an offshoot of the Community Services Department.
Petition originator Marlene Rogers, a 70-year-old great-grandmother, said in an interview Wednesday many residents are worried a serious conflict could arise between an elderly resident and a younger special-needs tenant who might only be in their 40s or 50s.
"A few of the (older residents) have been confronted by mental health people who are nasty," said Rogers.
She said she realizes lots of people with psychiatric issues can function in everyday life, and not all are deemed to be intimidating.
"I mean, there but for the grace of God go I," said Rogers.
But that doesn't mean people who support the petition feel safe, she said. About 300 people have signed the protest sheet; Rogers is hoping for 1,000 signatures.
A Community Services spokeswoman said safety is a priority at the housing authority's buildings.
Kristen Tynes said if a complaint from a tenant is filed, it is investigated. She also said misbehaving residents can be evicted.
She said the buildings have security guards and cameras.
"Also, there is an application process," Tynes said.
"So, when someone applies, their information on the application is verified and their references are checked."
Tynes acknowledged there are younger tenants in seniors' buildings - mainly people in their late 50s - and social workers are available if a resident needs support in his or her home.
She said she was unfamiliar with the pensioners' petition and the complaints on which it is based.

Organizations: Metropolitan Regional Housing Authority, Community Services Department

Geographic location: HALIFAX

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