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Sask. seniors home residents say drug use, vandalism rampant inside building

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Brent Patterson says living conditions at the government housing facility he calls home in Moose Jaw have drastically fallen in recent years.

Human feces in the elevators, people abandoning needles in the hallways and streaks of vandalism have led to residents at Moose Jaw’s High Park Towers not feeling safe in their homes.

“When I went to High Park Towers, it was for seniors … [now] we’ve had as young as 18-19-year-olds and people with addictions,” Patterson explained.

“I don't have any hard feelings against the staff of Moose Jaw housing, they're doing their job. They're doing the best they can. However, I blame the Premier of Saskatchewan for allowing this to happen.”

Patterson was one of three High Park residents who visited the legislature Monday, at the invitation of the Saskatchewan NDP, highlighting the dire situation their home has fallen into.

Because of the issues, staff have begun to lock up the common area and restrict access to the building itself in the early evening.

“The buzzers are cut off at eight o'clock until eight o'clock in the morning,” Patterson explained.

“A lot of people say it's like being in jail. I've never had that problem in the past. But we do have it now.”

Opposition Housing Critic Meara Conway says High Park is meant for residents 55 and older – but residents of all ages, including those with mental health issues have been allowed to live there with no supports.

“What I'm hearing is not only is there no supportive housing offered here – they don't even have a tenant coordinator right now.” Conway told reporters.

“They don't even have a liaison. They've been off since July. There's no one. So this is not a good situation.”

According to Patterson, cockroaches and ventilation issues are rampant in some units. Many residents are unable to afford a TV – adding to the isolation.

“We feel like we just don't matter. You know?” he said. “What an awful thought. What an awful feeling.”

Monday’s visit to the legislature is not the first attempt by High Park residents to get help from the province.

“We approached our MLA (Greg Lawrence) and he came there and he took pictures of certain things and he said he'd get back to us,” he said.

“That was before COVID hit and we're still waiting for him to get back.”

Minister of Social Services Gene Makowsky told reporters that he would be looking into the situation at High Park.

When asked, Makowsky said intermixing people with complex needs including mental health and addictions with seniors is not the government’s policy.

“There are challenges with putting people with complex needs, mental health and addictions and whatever it may be – in with seniors. It's not that simple. We can't just do that,” he explained.

“So from what I understand that maybe is the case. I want to follow up with these individuals and see what the situation is but that's definitely not a policy with Sask. Housing.”

Makowsky pointed to recent funding announcements for supportive housing as action the province is taking on the issue.

Going into his 11th year at High Park – Patterson says it’s sad to see his home undergo such a drastic negative change.

“I wanted to go to High Park because there was a lot of activities, there was seniors. There was always something to do and it was a nice place. You felt safe. You felt comfortable,” Patterson said.

“Now it's gone downhill. I don't blame Moose Jaw Housing, but I do blame the Premier of Saskatchewan. Like, do something.”

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