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Stock of accessible, partially accessible housing offered by Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corp. not high

Pam Synyard.
Pam Synyard. - SaltWire File Photo

Search for one-level unit stalls

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. —

There’s been no news for Pam Synyard, who is waiting for a transfer by the Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corp. (NLHC) to a unit safer for her seizure-prone teenage daughter, and it’s small wonder given the overall number of units available.

Last week, The Telegram told Synyard’s story about the wait for a one-level unit. Synyard tried the private market, but could not find a rent for a suitable unit close to what the NLHC — the provincial Crown corporation that either supplies or arranges low-income housing — allows for a rental subsidy. She wants to remain close to family for help.

This week, Synyard still had no leads. She has already been waiting months. The transfer was approved in December, but was supported by a pediatric neurologist’s letter last August that pointed out the dangers of living in a unit with stairs for her daughter, whose seizures come on without warning.

In Synyard’s west-end NLHC townhouse, the bathroom and bedrooms are on the second floor, up a standard flight of stairs.

Her daughter’s seizures resulted in the now 13-year-old falling down the stairs last June, with her head puncturing the drywall. She broke her collarbone. Her daughter, who has developmental disabilities, has “intractible seizures where she can have a generalized seizure without warning and collapse to the floor,” according to the pediatric neurologist’s letter.

According to information supplied by the NLHC on its current stock, there are no one-level or accessible units currently available in St. John’s west or Mount Pearl.

The NLHC has just 83 fully accessible units within its social housing portfolio, 40 of which are in St. John’s and two of which are in Mount Pearl. There are also 511 units province-wide with varying levels of accessibility features, 303 of which are located in the Avalon region. That’s out of 5,590 units in the province, 3,203 of which are on the Avalon Peninsula.

As of March 8, the NLHC has 12 applications and four transfer requests from current tenants for fully accessible units in the Avalon region. Provincewide, there are 19 applications and eight transfer requests.

Usually, said the NLHC, it is able to address these requests through its own units, or through rent supplement in the private sector, if the rent is within the program limit of $800 plus a heat and light subsidy.

When clients apply for rental housing or current tenants request a transfer, the NLHC said, it has a process to determine needs and priority.

For rental applications and transfer requests, clients are able to select the geographic areas they wish to live in, such as St. John’s east, west or central. The more areas selected increases the opportunity to find a home suitable for their needs, the NLHC said.

While the NLHC works with clients/tenants to find suitable housing, not all offers made are accepted. In that event, the process to find a suitable house for their needs begins again, the NLHC pointed out in its response to The Telegram on the housing dilemma.

Related story:
St. John's family caught in long wait for housing

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