PLUCKY pensioners who vowed to defy housing bosses who threatened to kick them out of their homes have won an early victory in their fight against eviction.
Dozens of residents in very sheltered accommodation run by Cairn Housing Association were left stunned after they were told in April that their housing complexes were likely to close next year.
But rather than accept the decision, they fought back with 87-year-old Laverockbank Terrace resident Jo Hopkin leading the charge vowing that the elderly inhabitants were prepared to “barricade” themselves in.
The housing provider said today that following feedback from residents, it would “look again” at options that could avoid the closure of the five under-threat complexes.
The U-turn meant that while the future is far from secure there is hope for the 42 tenants who had previously faced the prospect of being uprooted.
Ms Hopkin said: “When they announced it, people were very shaken. Cairn are now admitting they didn’t do enough homework before making their decision. I am impressed that they listened – we want to stay here and I’m hopeful there will be a solution. I really do think they thought they would be given an easy ride over this.
“People should not be moved in their mid to late-90s, people know their doctor, their church, and I don’t think Cairn was prepared for the bombardment they got.
“It was a great shock, it made me terribly angry but that gave me a great deal of energy, which I was glad to have.”
The news has also been welcomed by 21 staff whose jobs are at risk. Residents in the homes wrote to the Care Commission, attended the Cairn AGM and involved politicians in their own campaign.
The issue of the possible evictions has been raised in the Scottish Parliament while it is understood the City Council has applied pressure to Cairn to explore other options with care home places in high-demand across the Capital.
Ken Ward, Chairperson of Cairn Housing Association, said: “We have listened to our residents and their families and the board have agreed to pause and further explore alternatives to closing the homes.
“We are of course aware that this means a further period of uncertainty, but if this avoids closure then we hope that this will be welcome.”
He added: “The Board can confirm that Cairn still intends to largely withdraw from providing very sheltered housing.
“But we will continue to work closely with the City of Edinburgh Council and other housing organisations to establish whether they can provide the existing service to residents.”
Cairn said it hoped that the first stage of identifying an alternative provider will finish by the end of September, and residents will be invited to contribute to the decision-making process in choosing a suitable partner organisation.
The five homes operated by Cairn which have been threatened are in Laverockbank Terrace, Grange Loan, Braid Avenue, Church Hill and Columba Road.
Council health leader, Ricky Henderson, said: “They will go out to the market and see if anyone is interested in taking it over, that leads to a range of possibilities.
“We do welcome them trying to see if there is another way round this. Previously, the position was that they were going to have to leave which was a little harsh on mostly elderly residents.”