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‘I don’t feel safe’: Halifax senior on living at provincially run housing complex

Residents and family members at an independent seniors’ complex in Halifax are raising concerns over safety issues, and want the provincial housing authority to take action.

They allege people who don’t even live in the building are getting inside and harassing residents.

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

Bowden lives in the building on Devonshire Avenue in Halifax operated by Nova Scotia Provincial Housing Agency (NSPHA). She’s lived there for nearly four decades, but in recent years, she’s noticed things deteriorating.

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

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

“And then recently, I guess it got to the point where some of the people in the building were afraid to walk the hall because they thought that they could be accosted or who knows what could happen.”

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

“I’ll tell you one thing. When I open my door, I don’t go out down to the elevator. I’m scared. Not only me. The other people in here are afraid of what they’re going to face when they go out of that door,” she said.

“When I go home with my daughter and we spend all day out, I  hate to come back in here.”

Nova Scotia Provincial Housing Agency responds

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

“This is a priority of ours. Everybody deserves to feel safe in their own home, just as you and I do. And and as a landlord, we take steps to make sure that that’s the case for all of our tenants,” she said.

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

Menchenton says there are tools the NSPHA uses, including exterior security cameras and security personnel. She adds that they would consider placing cameras inside the building, but would need to have a “privacy impact assessment” done first.

“We also have the ability, of course, to work with law enforcement if necessary or needed. So we have all of these tools available to us whenever there’s a concern around safety, security, extra lighting and so forth around the building,” she said.

But the Bowdens say they feel their complaints are not being taken seriously, because little has changed. While the authority has offered to move Winnifred to a different building, she declined because she says she doesn’t necessarily want to leave her home. She just wants her safety ensured.

“Does it take somebody to be murdered … or physical, sexually abused or something to have them react?” Joe said.

Winnifred has another word: “disappointed.”

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

“We’re seniors and this time of our life, we should be living in comfort and not fear.”

&copy 2024 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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