B.C. seniors at risk of homelessness will get some help finding housing and other vital mental health supports, thanks to a provincial investment.
The B.C. government has provided the Seniors Services Society of BC with a $720,000 grant for its Seniors Housing Information and Navigation Ease (SHINE) program to connect seniors with housing, financial assistance, mental health and addictions services.
The funding will enable SHINE to offer enhanced services in Nanaimo and Vancouver, as well as communities in the province’s interior and the north, according to a media release from the provincial government.
“We are incredibly grateful for the funding from the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions, as it couldn’t have come at a more urgent time,” said Alison Silgardo, CEO, Seniors Services Society of BC. “COVID-19 has increased the risk and vulnerability of our seniors, and this provincial grant will enable us to continue supporting seniors, including expanding the mental-health and addictions services needed during these difficult times.”
Without the services provided by SHINE, many seniors throughout the province can be at risk of poverty, homelessness and discrimination. SHINE facilitates timely access to and navigation of appropriate housing services and supports for seniors.
“Seniors often face obstacles when trying to connect with resources for housing, mental health and addictions support. Finding support can be daunting for the elderly; that’s why organizations like the Senior Services Society of BC and their SHINE program are integral to supporting seniors and ensuring they have the care and help they deserve,” said Adam Walker, MLA for Parksville-Qualicum.
Research has shown that when seniors are able to age in a residence of their choosing, they are less likely to experience mental health and addictions challenges and tend to have higher standards of living, according to the province. Services offered by the SHINE program are vital to help close gaps in access to mental health, addictions and housing supports.
One quarter (24.6 per cent) of Canadian seniors live alone with little or no family or friend contacts, according to 2019 Canadian census data.