Shock over eviction threat to elderly residents

Ian Murray MP, has attacked the plans. Picture: Jon Savage
Ian Murray MP, has attacked the plans. Picture: Jon Savage
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A HOUSING association is to shut the doors of five ­sheltered housing units leaving 42 ­elderly residents to find new ­accommodation.

Cairn Housing Association has announced the closure of sheltered complexes at Grange Loan, Braid Avenue, Church Hill, Laverockbank Terrace and Columba Road.

In addition 21 members of staff are at risk of redundancy as a result of the closures.

Bosses at the non-profit housing provider claim the shock move is necessary due to repeated financial losses.

However family members and residents have spoken of their shock at the announcement – claiming they were given “no prior warning” of the move.

Sasha McLeod, 49, from Tranent, whose 89-year-old mother, Christine, has lived at the Columba Road unit in Blackhall for three years, said: “This is very upsetting. This isn’t a facility or unit it’s my mother’s home where she feels settled and is part of the community, her church is just a short walk around the corner and she ­attends every Sunday.

“These are people’s lives we are talking about here, the residents are like one big happy family but now they will all have to be uprooted and sent to who knows where.” She added: “Cairn just announced this to us in a letter and the entire decision was done and dusted.”

Another relative of a 97-year-old resident, who asked not to be named, echoed this, saying vulnerable pensioners should not have such worries at an ­advanced stage in their lives.

The upset family member said: “My mother is horrified and shocked by this, as are all the residents. If we were given an indication of the problems then we would have had an ­opportunity to increase the fees we pay. I doubt we’ll find ­anywhere like it with the same level of facilities and staff.”

Cairn say the closures will take place next year and that they have entered into an agreement with Viewpoint Housing Association where tenants will be given ­priority for any vacancies ­within their housing stock.

Residents will also be awarded a silver priority pass upon application to the council’s Edindex waiting list for council and social landlord places.

It is understood Edinburgh Council is aware of the situation and is due to conducting talks with the association.

A spokesman for Cairn said: “Cairn Housing Association’s Board has taken a strategic ­decision that Cairn should withdraw from the provision of very sheltered housing and that the needs of the residents can be better served by specialist housing providers.”

Ian Murray MP, who represents Edinburgh South, said: “This is pretty devastating given those involved are quite vulnerable people. If funding is not viable we need to have discussion to make it viable. With an increasing elderly population we need to see more of these units opening not closing.”

Very sheltered housing has benefits including extra wardens, full-time carers, en suite facilities and meals.