More seniors turning to Fredericton shelters for housing

·2 min read

The number of seniors in the Fredericton area who are homeless has been growing over the past few months.

Advocates say it's a disturbing trend, with seniors either sleeping rough or using local shelters.

"We've seen the ebbs and flows, but we've never seen it this consistently high throughout, which is a challenge," said Warren Maddox, executive director of the Fredericton Homeless Shelters Inc.

Nearly half the beds at St. John House are occupied by men who are more than 60 years old, said Maddox.

"It's been a trend that we've watched sort of growing for the past couple of months, and it's not a promising trend at all."

Maddox attributes the growing number of homeless seniors to a lack of affordable housing in the capital city, and the recent closure of long-standing rooming houses.

"It really does, I think, come back to the much overused statement about affordable housing and it's a bit of an overused statement or term — affordable housing, but I think getting the right type of housing for different individuals is critical."

Outside the shelters, 40 people are known to be sleeping rough in Fredericton, and of those it's estimated that 12 are seniors.

Shane Fowler/CBC
Shane Fowler/CBC

Joan Kingston is a nurse at the Community Health Centre and chair of the Community Action Group on Homelessness. She estimates there are probably as many homeless people over 55 in the capital as there are people in their 20s and 30s.

"If people think that just because you're a little bit older, you're not likely to be homeless, I think that that's not a correct assumption," she said.

Kingston said older people living rough face more challenges, including less physical mobility. "There's absolutely no question that it's more difficult as you age because, of course, like the general population as you age, you're more prone to have chronic medical health conditions … there are more challenges around the need for safety."