Residents allege drug use, disturbing behaviour in Saskatoon low-income seniors' building

Residents at the Scott and Forget apartments say they've had to deal with issues of drug use and drug dealing in the building in recent months. (Travis Reddaway/CBC - image credit)
Residents at the Scott and Forget apartments say they've had to deal with issues of drug use and drug dealing in the building in recent months. (Travis Reddaway/CBC - image credit)

Residents at a Saskatoon seniors' housing building are alleging that the provincial government has moved people dealing with addictions and mental health issues into the building, sending it into chaos.

The Scott and Forget towers in Saskatoon's south end are designated as senior housing units for people aged 55 and older.

People living there say they have been living in fear in recent months, with some describing themselves as prisoners in their own homes. Residents spoke outside the building on Wednesday, alleging people have been dealing drugs and smoking illicit drugs in the building, and human feces have been smeared on elevator buttons.

"I have never seen it so bad," said Gaye Tough, a resident of the building for about a decade.

"For a lot of people who have compromised immune systems or just health problems in general, things like that are very difficult for our community," she said of the feces in the elevator.

Residents in the apartment building say feces were smeared on these elevator keys, leading to a piece of plastic being placed across them to limit contamination.
Residents in the apartment building say feces were smeared on these elevator keys, leading to a piece of plastic being placed across them to limit contamination.

Residents in the apartment building say feces were smeared on these elevator keys, leading to a piece of plastic being placed across them to limit contamination. (Travis Reddaway/CBC)

The Saskatchewan NDP says residents have formed a "safety squad" to protect each other.

"We're hearing stories about crystal meth being smoked and sold in the hallways. We're hearing stories about weapons in common areas," said the Official Opposition's critic for seniors, Matt Love.

Residents speaking Wednesday said that while people need housing, including people with complex mental health and addictions issues, their senior living centre isn't the place. They say the government has placed people in the building who need more support than what can be offered there.

Roger Parenteau, executive director of the Saskatchewan Housing Corporation, said all the tenants meet the standard for the low-income seniors' program.

"We're not mixing complex needs individuals with our senior social housing project," he said.

"This is a large seniors' housing project and there's different individuals that have different behaviours regardless of age."

In other cases, family or friends who join the residents could be causing issues, he said.

He said the corporation is working to address the concerns raised by tenants at the building.

 Carol Koffler, a four-year tenant of the building, says she has concerns about continuing to live in the building and that issues are progressively becoming worse.
Carol Koffler, a four-year tenant of the building, says she has concerns about continuing to live in the building and that issues are progressively becoming worse.

Carol Koffler, a four-year tenant of the building, says she has concerns about continuing to live in the building and that issues are progressively becoming worse. (Travis Reddaway/CBC)

"We have people living here, with these people, that aren't supposed to be living here, on a regular basis," said Carol Koffler, a four-year tenant. She said tenants are required to report when they plan to house someone for more than a couple nights.

"Then we bring that up, about all these other people living here that don't live here, and it's like they don't hear it."

The housing corporation said security services have been contracted to improve building safety, though one resident speaking Wednesday said that on-site security was short lived.

The NDP also said the residents have contacted their Sask. Party MLA, Lisa Lambert. In an email, Lambert said she is aware of concerns raised by the building's tenants and is working with the Saskatoon Housing Authority to address the concerns.

"Any residents with concerns or questions on this matter can contact the Saskatoon Housing Authority," the email said, in part.

The NDP also drew a connection between the issues facing seniors at the Scott and Forget apartments and previous reports of issues in Moose Jaw.

Residents at the High Park building there say they saw drug use and vandalism and didn't feel safe at home.