45 Minute Video: Meeting On Seniors & Housing

September 21, 2016

Age Concern held its AGM at the Evangelical Church Hall in Paget, with members provided with reports on the organization’s charitable activities over its last fiscal year, and the meeting also discussing the challenges associated with housing for seniors.

Deputy Chairperson Charles Jeffers provided a summary of the year’s activities on behalf of departing Chairperson Erwin Adderley who was unable to attend in person due to an unexpected delay.

The organization’s Treasurer, Tracey Pitt, presented financial statements to the membership highlighting a positive financial year, due mostly to reducing expenditure, relying more on volunteers and implementing new fundraising initiatives.

Executive Director Dr. Claudette Fleming spoke of the services provided by Age Concern over the past year, including providing over $35,000 in financial hardship support to seniors in need of food, prescription drugs, handyman repairs and electricity.

She also noted the membership had jumped by 50%, now consisting of over 3500 members since the year 2014.

The second half of the meeting was a panel discussion on the topic of seniors housing.

Age Concern Housing Forum Bermuda, September 20 2016-4

Guest panelists included Mr. John Barrit of the Bermuda Housing Trust [BHT]; Major Barrett Dill and Ms. Desiree O’Connor of the Bermuda Housing Corporation [BHC]; and Mr. Michael Defontes of Coldwell Banker, Bermuda Realty and a member of Age Concern’, Advocacy Committee.

The discussion was moderated by Charles Jeffers who asked the panelists questions on the need for senior housing, the challenges and the current trends for addressing the issue.

John Barrit noted that the BHT had a running waiting list of 50 persons and was in need of a larger housing stock. He discussed the challenge of maintaining BHT properties while committing to keeping rents affordable for seniors, and stressed the need for more public support.

Age Concern Housing Forum Bermuda, September 20 2016-5

Ms. O’Connor indicated that just over 20% of the Bermuda Housing Corporation rental housing had older adult tenants.

She noted the challenges of growing older in housing developments that lacked supportive services, but reinforced the BHC’s interest in being creative in meeting the new and increasing demands for appropriate housing for seniors.

Mr. Defontes indicated that many seniors were looking to downsize as maintaining large properties is proving difficult for some seniors.

Age Concern Housing Forum Bermuda, September 20 2016-1

He identified the issue of cash flow as one the major issues facing seniors and something to be addressed within the public and private sectors, in addition to greater choice in meeting housing and care needs.

One Age Concern member challenged Major Dill on the responsiveness of the BHC in addressing the concerns of their older tenants.

Age Concern Housing Forum Bermuda, September 20 2016-2

Mr. Dill acknowledged that tenants in the BHC properties were growing older and that a number of strategies to be proactive in meeting their needs were underway including making the BHC staff more available to respond to concerns.

It was determined that a second meeting was required to address the issue which appeared to have broad appeal to seniors of all walks of life, and Mr. Jeffers indicated that Age Concern will provide a second opportunity for the issue of seniors’ housing to be discussed by the membership.

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Comments (2)

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  1. clearasmud says:

    Age concern does a great job of advocating for senior’s but seniors problems begin long before they become seniors. More needs to be done to prevent future seniors from ending up with the same problems. More focus needs to be placed on preparing for senior hood especially from a financial perspective.

  2. mmm says:

    There are a number of setbacks that can throw a future senior of course from owning his/her own home. If you do a survey there may be five or six main reasons for not owning one,s own home…divorce..death of a spouse a period of unemployment…poor health… to name just a few.