Peter Locke has been living in a van during his search for accessible housing.
— Photo by Barb Sweet/The Telegram
The Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corp. (NLHC) says it has only a wait list of about 10 applicants for fully accessible housing and it was looking into the case Tuesday of a man who’s spent most of the summer living in a 1980 van.
NLHC CEO Len Simms said since the story about Peter Locke, a 52-year-old man who uses a wheelchair and who has multiple sclerosis and other health issues appeared in Tuesday’s Telegram, he’s asked staff to pursue the issue.
“It’s not a matter that was really brought to our attention in a significant way,” Simms said.
The NDP has been trying to help Locke find an apartment, but getting something accessible has been tough. NLHC was one of the options explored, in addition to other non-profit housing and the private rental market.
Simms said a person such as Locke, who can’t live independently and needs home care, must give the NLHC a letter from an agency that is going to provide home support. Then the application will be placed on a high priority list. He said staff will pursue whether something’s gone wrong in the process for Locke.
“Generally speaking, somebody who has a disability, all we need to know is does he or she need support services. … That’s usually done in consultation with an occupational therapist from Eastern Health,” Simms said.
“Persons who are disabled are high up on our priority list.”
Locke, in the meantime, was set to look at a couple of apartments Tuesday and leads were coming in. His monthly combined disability income is $1,700 a month, and an apartment must be affordable as well as accessible.
He had been living in Winterton, an hour and a half away from St. John’s, until fire damaged his home there. He wants to live closer to where he has weekly medical appointments.
Kate Moffatt, NLHC’s executive director of programs, policy and research, said there are 81 fully accessible units in the NLHC portfolio. Then there are the non-profit and private-sector units that have been funded through affordable housing agreements.
Out of more than 1,000 of those across the province, 255 are fully accessible units, and Moffatt said more could be built under an expected new agreement with the federal government.
Of the 900 applicants waiting for non-profit housing in the province, roughly 10 are waiting for fully accessible units, Moffatt said. Most of those waiting are in
She said some people may not want to live in NLHC housing.
“I don’t care where I live,” Locke said Tuesday of his search.
Meanwhile, Simms said it’s unfair of the NDP to criticize the province for not building enough affordable, accessible housing.
He said rent subsidies to help eligible clients cope in the private sector were doubled a couple of years ago.
He said there is no wait list for rent subsidies as there is one application made for social housing and the applications are prioritized and processed from there.
The NLHC prioritizes applications for victims of violence and people with complex needs, Simms said.