NDP wants seniors housing repaired, bedbugs eliminated

The NDP is calling on the government to repair the run-down social and seniors housing it owns and properly get rid of the bedbugs.

“Families are approaching the Opposition to describe horrible bedbug infestations in seniors housing, and a real struggle getting the government to properly treat the problem,” said NDP Housing critic David Forbes. “It’s not acceptable for the government to become a shoddy landlord. Most importantly, it puts seniors’ health at risk, and by letting provincial assets become run down it also costs taxpayers much more in the long run.”

Adelle Bryson, 80, lives in a government-owned social housing building for seniors at 2121 Rose St. in Regina. Her family says bedbugs moved in at least seven months ago, and she can’t sleep there anymore.

The authorities are requiring Bryson, who is frail and uses an oxygen tank, to pack up her belongings, disassemble and move her furniture and take all her possessions to a drycleaner herself before they’ll come in to treat the unit for bedbugs. Since they won’t do the whole building, leaving infested common areas and suites untreated, the family worries the effort and expense will be wasted when the bugs return.

“I just want my mom to be safe and comfortable,” said Bryson’s son, Jim Bryson. “She’s on a small pension and doesn’t have the ability to take everything she owns to a dry cleaner or to move her own furniture. What about all the seniors in that building that don’t have family that can help? Those seniors will suffer, and the bugs from their suites will come right back into mom’s suite making the cost, the effort and displacement of mom all for nothing.”

Bryson says the government should do it once and do it right when it comes to eliminating bedbugs. The bedbugs aren’t the only problem at 2121 Rose St., he added. Cabinets are falling apart and the air quality has been so bad that his mom was hospitalized in January 2014 as a result.

Overall, the Saskatchewan Housing Corporation has cut the maintenance budget to $48.3 million in 2014, compared to a peak of $93.4 million in 2011. Housing authorities have complained about the province slashing their budgets for maintenance. For example, the Earl Grey Housing Authority says its 2014 maintenance budget for six units was just $550, down from $1,475 in 2013.

“Enough is enough,” said Forbes. “This government is dropping the ball on the basics when it comes to safe, affordable housing, and it’s unacceptable. It should never have come to this, but now the government needs to repair the damage, get rid of the bedbugs and put a proactive plan in place to maintain what we own.”

2121 Rose St. is a social housing building for seniors, and each tenant’s rent is based on one-third of their monthly income.  It’s operated by the Regina Housing Authority, which is funded by the provincial government.