Se­nior faces los­ing spe­cial friend in trade-off for af­ford­able home

PressReader - BRUCE_CAROL_ROWE Channel - Se­nior faces los­ing spe­cial friend in trade-off for af­ford­able home
When Stan Par­sons lived in Bridge­land, he was greeted by res­i­dents who walked past his apart­ment build­ing where he sat each day of the sum­mer: “Hi Stan. Hi Jelly­bean.”Par­sons, 84, and his seven-yearold Labradoo­dle af­fec­tion­ately nick­named Jelly were also well­known in the lo­cal dog park, just as they are in their cur­rent com­mu­nity of Cres­cent Heights.The se­nior cred­its his com­pan­ion with get­ting him out into the com­mu­nity. In fact, Jelly­bean has been a con­nec­tor that has helped him form friend­ships with peo­ple who now make up his sup­port net­work.“Maybe if I didn’t have Jelly­bean, I’d sit here and wouldn’t go out some days,” he said in an in­ter­view. “I get up at 5 in the morn­ing, I take him out at 6 to the park … and then I take him again, maybe around 9, I go with him with the ball and the thrower thing. He just loves chas­ing the ball.”But even with help from some sup­port­ers, Par­sons is fac­ing a chal­lenge that has so far been in­sur­mount­able: find­ing an af­ford­able home for him and his dog.The se­nior has been told to va­cate his cur­rent rental apart­ment by the end of Fe­bru­ary — an or­der he says came af­ter he let a re­pair per­son into the build­ing to fix the washer, and also let a postal worker in to de­liver the mail.So far, ev­ery prop­erty man­ager he has called has turned him away, cit­ing poli­cies ban­ning all pets or larger dogs.“I phoned one place over on Ed­mon­ton Trail, they had a sign for rent,” he said. “And ev­ery­thing was fine un­til I men­tioned the dog … and I said, ‘how come ev­ery­body hates dogs all of a sud­den?’ He says, ‘I love dogs.’ It kind of threw me a bit, be­cause if you love dogs, let a dog in.”Par­sons faced sim­i­lar bar­ri­ers when he moved from his home of 36 years in Bridge­land af­ter his sis­ter died and the rent be­came un­af­ford­able. With the help of a friend, he even­tu­ally found a place in Cres­cent Heights. He lived there for about a year be­fore mov­ing into his cur­rent build­ing across the street, where he finds him­self search­ing again af­ter only about six months.His strug­gle to find an af­ford­able home for him and his pet is a re­flec­tion of a broader prob­lem for se­niors, said Ann Toohey, sci­en­tific co-or­di­na­tor of the Brenda Straf­ford Cen­tre on Ag­ing at the Univer­sity of Cal­gary.In her doc­toral re­search, she looked at ways se­niors in Cal­gary find to stay within their com­mu­nity as they grow older, par­tic­u­larly those in more dis­ad­van­taged cir­cum­stances, such as be­ing on a fixed in­come or be­ing so­cially iso­lated.“Hous­ing came up quite reg­u­larly, es­pe­cially when I was speak­ing with those ser­vice providers who re­ally fo­cus on the facets of our older pop­u­la­tion who are struggling and for whom I heard pets de­scribed as things like a life­line, a rea­son to get out of bed ev­ery day,” Toohey said.Dogs, she added, are a nat­u­ral way of cre­at­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for so­cial en­gage­ment.“And then just the sense of pur­pose and mean­ing that a pet, whether it’s a dog or cat, can bring into some­one’s life, in ad­di­tion to just hav­ing com­pan­ion­ship,” she said.Par­sons has out­lived most of his fam­ily, in­clud­ing four sib­lings and two sons, and has no rel­a­tives in Cal­gary. He not only sees Jelly as his fam­ily, but as a part of him.“I live just with Jelly­bean,” he said. “He cheers me up some days, and we go for lots of walks and stuff like that. I go to the drug­store over here and they let me take him right in the drug­store.”The prox­im­ity of that drug­store, where the help­ful staff know him, and of his doc­tor’s of­fice down the street, are rea­sons he is hop­ing to stay in the same area of the city. Par­sons said se­vere arthri­tis makes it hard for him to walk very far.He added he has been told there are no sub­si­dized hous­ing lo­ca­tions in Cal­gary that ac­cept dogs. Some peo­ple have hinted that he should get rid of his pet to make his hous­ing sit­u­a­tion eas­ier. But get­ting rid of Jelly would be like part­ing with a fam­ily mem­ber.“That’s the same as them say­ing, ‘if you had a kid with you, get rid of the kid,’” he said. “It’s the same thing to me.”He wishes more land­lords would con­sider ac­cept­ing ten­ants like him and Jelly on a trial basis. The an­i­mal’s friendly and gen­tle de­meanour means “he never gets mad,” even when an­other dog takes his ball at the park, Par­sons said.Gerry Bax­ter, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Cal­gary Res­i­den­tial Rental As­so­ci­a­tion, said part of the is­sue for land­lords is that pets can cause dam­age. Some build­ings also have pet-free poli­cies in recog­ni­tion of peo­ple with al­ler­gies.But, he added, there are land­lords who al­low pets in their build­ing.“The best ad­vice I can give any­body with a pet is shop around, be­cause there are land­lords who will al­low pets,” he said.Par­son’s friend, Lo­ralee Nis­bet, who is help­ing him with his hous­ing search, said Jelly is the se­nior’s con­nec­tion to the com­mu­nity, and the rea­son he and the good-na­tured dog were al­ways greeted by name on their Bridge­land street.“It’s his com­pan­ion­ship,” she said. “I think a lot of se­niors face iso­la­tion, and just hav­ing Jelly there …. I couldn’t imag­ine Stan be­ing happy with­out him there.”That’s the same as them say­ing, ‘if you had a kid with you, get rid of the kid.’ It’s the same thing to me.

Stan Par­sons, 84, is struggling to find an af­ford­able home for him­self and his seven-year-old Labradoo­dle, Jelly, whom he cred­its with help­ing him form friend­ships with peo­ple in the Cres­cent Heights com­mu­nity. He was told to va­cate his rental apart­ment by the end of Fe­bru­ary.

Stan Par­sons says prop­erty man­agers have so far turned him away due to poli­cies ban­ning all pets or larger dogs.

© PressReader. All rights reserved.