Sale of Lions Place housing complex considered elder abuse, says CCPA report

A new report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives says the sale of the Lions Place non-profit seniors housing complex to a for-profit organization can be classified as organizational elder abuse.

Residents were told in July 2022 that Lions Housing Centres could no longer afford to maintain the home and would be looking for a private-sector buyer.

What followed was several months of meetings and rallies as residents worried about what the sale would mean for their future living arrangements and how much their rent would go up.

The report says that the “process of the sale traumatized many tenants and disrupted their community in significant ways. This can be described from a gerontological perspective as a form of organizational elder abuse.”

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“Many participants detailed how they believed the announcement and finalization of the sale affected their well-being, including: sleep disruptions, shingles, increased blood pressure, depression/apathy, anxiety, headaches, and lack of appetite.”

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The facility was eventually sold to Mainstreet Equity Corp. a Calgary-based company.

A total of 35 participants were interviewed for the study, including 22 current tenants.

The report details how residents felt betrayed and abandoned by the previous Lions Housing Centre owners.

It also asks for several recommendations including to launch an immediate public inquiry or audit into management and spending of Lions Housing Centres members.

Bernadette Smith, Manitoba’s Housing, Addictions, and Homelessness Minister, calls the report “concerning” and says it’s a direct result of the previous PC government’s lack of communication with the previous owner in reaching a new agreement.

“Our government is committed to making sure seniors are treated fairly and that we’re working with and for them,” Smith said.

Shortly after the sale in late 2022, the previous government announced a two-year rent supplement agreement with the new owners, which ensured that rents would not go up for any resident for two years.

And with that agreement set to expire at the start of next year, Smith says they are in talks with the current owners to make sure residents stay in their homes.

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