“Difficult to be optimistic” when looking for accommodation with a disability pension



KITCHEN – George White has less than a year to find a new, accessible and affordable apartment.

White, 61, has multiple sclerosis and uses a wheelchair.

For the past 10 years, he has lived in the main floor apartment of a house on Walter Street in Kitchener. He pays $ 1,000 per month in rent and receives $ 1,350 per month in his government disability pension.

“Do the math, there’s not much left,” White said.

He was previously diagnosed with MS when he moved to Walter Street. He liked the apartment and the location so he made it work. Years ago White hired a contractor to build a wheelchair ramp and make other changes.

Now his landlord has given verbal notice – he wants the tenants to move out by November 2022 because the house with three apartments will be demolished and replaced with townhouses.

So a friend helps White find a new place.

“I’ve looked at some apartments like crazy, but they’re all almost double what I’m paying now,” White said.

None are really accessible, at least for him. In addition to wider doors, White needs light switches, outlets and counters that are much lower than the floor so they can be reached easily from the wheelchair. The bathroom needs grab bars and a shower that can accommodate a wheelchair.

As he continues this research, White has dusted off his requests for affordable affordable housing in the Waterloo region. This led to even more stress. The waiting list for accessible subsidized apartments is 10 years.

White first requested a subsidized accessible unit shortly after moving to Walter Street. He knew what was going to happen with MS and he wanted to get on the waiting list.

“If you talk to the region now, there is a 10 year waiting list, if you spoke to the region at the time, there was a 10 year wait list, nothing has changed or not has happened for all of these years, ”White said.

“What I can tell you is the rents have gone up like crazy.”

White says he first applied for regional housing over eight years ago. The region says he applied only four and a half years ago. The region did not respond to a Record request for an interview. White says he can’t reach anyone on the phone in the area.

“The guy handling my case, I called him six times about a year ago to try to sort this out, he never answered any of my phone calls. And I’m just like: ‘These are the lives of the people you deal with, “White said.” But that’s how the journey was. “

Her situation was further complicated by the death of her personal support worker in March 2020. White had given her all of her documents and requests. She defended her cause with regional housing. He hasn’t seen the file since the death of his supporter, and searches for it frantically.

In late 2017, White says the region contacted him about his application and wanted him to select three possible addresses from a longer list of subsidized accessible units.

White provided her personal support worker with her documentation package and she attended the Waterloo Region head office on his behalf. She came back with good news, he recalls. Housing administrators told her personal support worker White should be moved to a unit. He let out a huge sigh of relief and only recently thought about it.

White says he first applied for regional housing shortly after moving into his current apartment on Walter Street. He had already been diagnosed with MS at the time, but could still walk. White knew what was coming and planned to have as much support as possible.

As MS progressed, White lost the use of his legs. Now, typing or paperwork is a physical challenge as his fine motor skills deteriorate.

“Absolutely nothing has happened in the eight years I’ve been trying to get a spot so far,” White said. “So it’s pretty hard to be optimistic that something is going to happen in the coming year.”


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