Saving seniors from homelessness in Lismore
TWENTY new units for seniors at risk of homelessness in the Northern Rivers have been officially opened in Lismore.
Government approved community housing provider BaptistCare used funds from the NSW and federal governments to turn develop a former aged care centre into 20 ground level, one-bedroom units, collectively called Garimaleh Place.
BaptistCare general manager of Housing and Retirement Living, Mike Furner, said the development signified BaptistCare's continued commitment to providing vital housing for older Australians who could not afford private rental accommodation or who are at risk of homelessness.
"We believe that all seniors should have access to secure and safe housing as they age, alongside access to additional support and care services as required, such as home help, personal care, transport and access to no interest loans," he said.
Residents were all aged 45 or over.
"Garimaleh Place is our second community housing location in Lismore ... bringing the total number of units to 46, providing housing for 55 local seniors," Mr Furner said.
BaptistCare Housing and Retirement manager, Kylie Bullow, said residents had been on NSW government housing wait lists but most originally came from the Northern Rivers region.
Resident Steven Lynch shared his story with guests at the opening on Monday afternoon.
"I've been homeless for over five years," he said.
"I ended up tumbling through refuges ... it wasn't a very good environment to live in.
"Since being at Garimaleh Place, it is fantastic.
"I am by myself, surrounded by older people so there's no mucking around ... it's quiet. This place is lovely."
Ms Bullow said the units were built in villa-style duplexes separated by landscaped gardens with a common barbecue area.
Units were designed with accessibility and affordability in mind: each unit has widened doorways and bathrooms suitable for access by care workers; solar panels and rain water tanks to service toilets, laundries and garden taps.
Federal Member for Page Kevin Hogan and Lismore Mayor Isaac Smith joined BaptistCare staff and residents to cut the ribbons for Garimaleh Place.