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Landlords asked to help homeless Bel Marine residents

Belleville City Councillor Garnet Thompson outside the Bel Marine building with Quinte Region Landlords Association members Robert Gentile, President, Steve Xu and Todd Theissen.

Quinte area landlords are being urged to help former Bel-Marine residence tenants who are now homeless.

Last month dozens of residents were forced to vacate the Bel Marine retirement building on Dundas St., East in Belleville as a result of health and safety violations involving asbestos, electricty, mould and health and safety issues. Since the majority of the estimated 49 tenants were under age 65, the residence was not licensed as a retirement home.

“A number of the residents are housed at various locations in the region on a temporary basis through different agencies including social services and we are looking for permanent locations for them,” said Garnet Thompson, Belleville city councillor who chairs the Community and Human services Joint Committee.

“This is a tragic situation and we couldn’t just stand idly by and do nothing,” said Robert Gentile, of the Quinte Region Landlords Association (QRLA).

The association is putting out a call to all local landlords with vacancies to accept the displaced Bel Marine residents on a temporary basis.

“The hotel rooms are cramped and unsuitable for these individuals, many of whom are in wheel chairs, have disabilities, and require assistance from support workers,” said association member Todd Theissen. Fellow QRLA member Steve Xu added “It’s very sad to see what these elderly folks are going through so we decided to try and help in some way.”

While Gentile admits it is only a temporary solution, he hopes it will buy the residents more time to find spaces in local retirement homes and remain in their own community.

“Otherwise they may have no choice but to relocate to other parts of the province where there are retirement home spaces. That would be a shame because this is their home area.”

Finding suitable apartments may not be easy, he said, noting that to complicate matters, even if a landlord has a vacancy it may not meet the requirements of some of the tenants.

According to the Hastings Housing Resource Centre’s Reta Sheppard “these individuals require accessible accommodations and there will be community partners coming in and out of their units to assist them.”

Councillor Thompson says he’s encouraged by the group’s efforts.

“I appreciate and thank the Quinte Region Landlords Association for stepping up and trying to help. We are fortunate to have a group of landlords that care about their community and fellow citizens in need.”

Gentile said that out of the 250 landlords involved with the association as members or subscribers, he is hopeful some will step forward. He’s also hoping media exposure will get the message out to even more landlords.

“Becoming homeless is a traumatic experience at any age. These people are in their twilight years and suffer from disabilities. I can’t imagine what they’re going through. Thank goodness for social services and the support programs we have in our community,” Gentile said. “If we find only one apartment for one resident, it could make a world of difference for them. That alone would make our efforts worth it.”

Landlords with vacancies wishing to help should contact the Quinte Region Landlord’s Association through its website www.quintelandlordsassociation.ca or 613 707-3879.

 

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