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BC Housing responds to senior’s eviction allegations

Wheelchair-bound, living on the street, Gorda said he hasn’t eaten or been out of his chair for days

BC Housing has responded to allegations made by a Prince Rupert senior citizen who said he was evicted from the Crow’s Nest Lodge, a supportive housing facility funded by the provincial agency and managed by the North Coast Transition Society.

As reported in The Northern View on Aug. 17, 68-year-old Merv Gorda alleges he was evicted from his home in the facility and was left with nowhere to go except to sleep on the street. He admitted to smoking in the building despite previous warnings but said he had also been permitted to do so until other residents started to follow suit. He said he tried to apologize for his actions but was told it was too late.

In an email to The Northern View, BC Housing stated it is committed to ensuring vulnerable people have access to safe and affordable housing.

“While we cannot comment on specific cases or individual circumstances due to privacy concerns, evictions at our supportive housing buildings are always a last resort and only made for legitimate reasons, like health and safety issues. In the rare cases where evictions do occur, we work with the evicted resident to find other housing options that meet their needs, unless the resident asks us not to,” the Aug. 18 email stated.

In a follow-up interview on Aug. 19, Gorda reiterated that he had been told he could go to the Terrace shelter. However, he would have to move cities, and the hot climate is not suitable for his age or medical conditions.

BC Housing said they are committed to supporting their non-profit housing providers in maintaining a safe work environment for their employees and other partner agencies who deliver services to residents.

“We know second-hand smoke can be detrimental to the health of residents. Residents often have medical concerns, such as asthma and allergies. Some of our residents rely on oxygen to deal with serious respiratory medical conditions,” the email specified.

According to the housing organization, residents sign program participation agreements before taking up occupancy which are written commitments to abiding by the policies of the building.

“Non-profit housing providers work closely with residents to help them uphold the agreement. If a resident continues to violate their agreement, despite warnings and repeated attempts to find resolutions, then the operator will explore solutions that may include alternate housing options,” BC Housing informed.

The housing agency stated it and its partners provide housing to residents with complex health and physical needs.

“We collaborate with various support agencies to provide critical services to these residents. We are all committed to providing safe, healthy, and comfortable housing and support services to residents.”

Gorda, who is wheelchair-bound and has a catheter bag, said that he has not been out of his chair once since his landing on the street and has had to sleep in it due to immobility. He said he has not been able to get out of it for toilet purposes and has to empty his medical catheter bag into the laneway nearby. He has been provided with a sleeping bag for warmth by another vulnerable person who stays in the same parkade location where he is taking cover from the elements. Gorda, whose medical and physical condition has deteriorated, said he has not eaten anything since Monday as the situation has depleted his appetite.

BC Housing stated that while they can’t comment on specific cases or individual circumstances, they continue to work with their partners in the Prince Rupert community to find a solution to this situation and have supplied a consent form for Gorda to sign to be able to provide more information.

K-J Millar | Journalist
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