West End Collaborative to Address Abuse of Elderly Renters

West End Seniors’ Network (WESN)

Project Objectives:

To share information and resources with building and residential managers in the West End of Vancouver, in order to support older adult renters experiencing housing challenges and to raise awareness about abuse of elderly renters.

Key Partners:

St Paul’s Anglican Church Advocacy Office and Gordon Neighbourhood House (GNH)

Activities:

  • Hosted training workshops; “train the trainer” provided by BC Association of Community Response Networks (BCCRN), using “It’s Not Right” workshop, for staff/volunteers of partner agencies; elder abuse presentation.
  • Interactive workshops on landlord tenancy legislation and its relation to elder abuse were provided to West End Seniors’ Network (WESN) staff/volunteers, partner organizations.
  • New materials and adapted BCCRN workshop and presentation materials; Excel spreadsheet developed for documenting clients served by housing support programs in West End.
  • Developed a client consent form (consent by tenants for inclusion in the process to document issues they face) that will be piloted in the St. Paul’s Hospital Elder Care Ambulatory Clinic
  • Developed the Seniors Tenancy Assistance Resource Centre (STARC) as a warehouse for housing support resources in the West End (see below for components). The documentation system for issues (including elder abuse) can then be used if the issue is escalated to the Residential Tenancy Branch.

Outcomes:

Shared information and resources to support West End older adult renters experiencing housing challenges:

    • Surveys were developed to help volunteers collect information from building managers.
  • Offered a networking event for West End building managers, which included the elder abuse presentation. The event was promoted through social networking.
  • Landlord BC promoted workshops in their monthly e-newsletter, and BC Non-Profit Housing Association (BCNPHA) promoted the program in their monthly e newsletter.
  • Presented about elder abuse at Hollyburn Properties’ building managers meeting in March.

Tools and Resources:

Seniors Tenancy Assistance Resource Centre (STARC) – electronic registry of all tenants and issues (confidential) includes:

  1. Tenant intake/history form and complaint form; includes 16 common complaints covered by Residential Tenancy Regulations
  2. Release form (explaining what WESN does and does not do)
  3. Training procedure for new volunteer/staff

Documentation includes:

  1. A copy of tenancy agreement (if available)
  2. A copy of identification (e.g., drivers licence, passport, other with picture if possible)
  3. A copy of any correspondence between management and tenant
  4. Any other relevant documents.

Lessons Learned:

  • Volunteers reported having trouble getting ‘face-to-face’ with building and residential managers as they were not willing to spend time with volunteers and were not willing to fill out a survey.  The approach to delivering resources was revised – volunteers completed the building information survey only, and left an envelope with program information, elder abuse information and resources.

Challenges:

  • Building managers were not prepared to spend time with the volunteers.
  • Recruiting and maintaining volunteers.
  • Building relationships with organizations.
  • There is a requirement that the full “It’s Not Right: Neighbours, Friends and Families” presentation be used when making presentations.  But, it was too general for the specific purposes of this project and, when combined with the tenancy information, it became too long.

For Sustainability:

  • STARC will be incorporated into the current housing support offered by WESN.  St Paul’s Anglican Church Advocacy Office will also be incorporating STARC into their housing support program.  West End Coal Harbour Community Poling Centre (WECHCPC) and the local MLA community office will be referring older adults (55 years of age or older) requesting housing support to WESN. If the tenant is younger than 55 years of age, they will be referred to St Paul’s Anglican Church Advocacy Office.
  • The housing documentation and accompanying training workshop could be shared with and delivered to other organizations. WESN could also present on this project to other organizations.

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