Provincial grant will benefit seniors at risk of homelessness

SENIORS throughout British Columbia will have a helping hand to connect those who are at risk of homelessness find housing and other vital mental-health supports, thanks to a provincial investment.

The B.C. government has provided the Seniors Services Society of BC with a $720,000 grant for its Seniors Housing Information and Navigation Ease (SHINE) program to connect seniors with housing, financial assistance, mental-health and addictions services. The funding will enable SHINE to offer enhanced services in Nanaimo and Vancouver, as well as communities in the Interior and the North.

“Seniors and Elders in our communities can feel especially isolated at this challenging time,” said Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “To help connect seniors to much-needed housing, mental-health and addictions support, our government is honoured to help fund SHINE’s work.”

Without the services provided by SHINE, many seniors throughout the province can be at risk of poverty, homelessness and discrimination. SHINE facilitates timely access to and navigation of appropriate housing services and supports for seniors.

“We are incredibly grateful for the funding from the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions, as it couldn’t have come at a more urgent time,” said Alison Silgardo, CEO, Seniors Services Society of BC. “COVID-19 has increased the risk and vulnerability of our seniors, and this provincial grant will enable us to continue supporting seniors, including expanding the mental-health and addictions services needed during these difficult times.”

Research has shown that when seniors are able to age in a residence of their choosing, they are less likely to experience mental-health and addictions challenges, and tend to have higher standards of living. Services offered by the SHINE program are vital to help close gaps in access to mental-health, addictions and housing supports.

“The fact that I didn’t feel isolated and that somebody was able to offer me support and help when I desperately needed it was and is still so appreciated,” said Bertha Horsfield, a Nanaimo resident who found herself caring for her sick husband and needing housing. “They are very knowledgeable about resources in various areas that a senior might not be aware of. And it’s just comforting to know there is ‘someone’ out there. Without their help and support, I don’t know where I would be.”

Thanks to the provincial funding, the SHINE program’s next steps include expanding housing navigation, increasing regional collaboration and strengthening community resilience.


* Canadian Census data (2019) shows that 24.6% of seniors 65 and older live alone with little or no family or friend contacts.

* The most common gaps identified are isolation, access to mental-health services and connection to housing supports.

* Experiences such as retirement, loss of loved ones, isolation, physical or mental-health problems, ageism and inadequate income can contribute to seniors facing discrimination and marginalization.

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