A BC Housing spokesperson said as of March 31 there were four wheelchair accessible units in the City of Prince Rupert: a studio and a two-bedroom unit at Eagles Landing and two studios at Sunset Villas.
There is currently no one on the waiting list in the wheelchair accessible category on the housing registry in the City of Prince Rupert.
While BC Housing is not permitted to talk about specific cases, a spokesperson said the Housing Registry may deny individuals a unit for a number of reasons. This includes an unsatisfactory tenancy history, providing false or fraudulent information or fail to provide documents as requested, being unable to demonstrate an ability to pay rent or having a debt to a subsidized housing provider. Further reasons including convictions or outstanding charges related to sexual interference with a child/possession of child pornography, deliberately worsening their current housing situation, demonstration of unacceptable behaviour, or if there is cause to believe a household member is engaging in or has a history of criminal activity.
A shortage of affordable wheelchair-accessible housing units in Prince Rupert forced Durwin Gordon to spend a number of nights last month living on the street.
“There is no housing for someone who is wheelchair-dependent,” said Peggy Davenport, a retired nurse who has been trying to help Gordon find housing.
“I just don’t know where I’m going to go,” Gordon said.
“Everything is in the air.”
A number of years ago an accident paralyzed the lower half of Gordon’s body, with the 45-year-old being unemployed for sometime.
Depending on social assistance, Gordon utilized the Salvation Army’s housing program and lived at Raffles Inn. But after the elevator broke down, Gordon was no longer able to reside at the inn as it was difficult for him to get up the stairs.
“I’ll be lucky to walk five steps with crutches, and I’ll have pain all the way up my spine,” Gordon explained.
“He would have to leave his wheelchair downstairs where it would be vandalized, and pull himself up the stairs. It’s petrifying for him,” Davenport said.
Gordon was then moved to Sunset Villa temporarily, but said he was told he could only stay for one month.
Davenport said she was called on April 15 and told that Gordon had spent the night outside of the former Shopper’s Drug Mart on Third Ave. West; Gordon had spent the night on the streets on both April 14 and 15.
Then, on April 16 Davenport said Gordon pooled all the money he had together and, along with some donation he received while on the street, was able to rent a room at the Pacific Inn.
The following day arrangements were made to send Gordon to Smithers on the Northern Health Connections Bus so he could be housed at the emergency shelter there. However, only a few days later he was back on his way to Prince Rupert, claiming he was told they were unable to provide the support he needed.
On April 28, Gordon once again was forced to spend the night on the streets.
“I’ve been bounced around in the system,” said Gordon.
After returning to Prince Rupert, anonymous donations allowed Gordon to stay at the Moby Dick Inn most of last week.
Gordon said he had been told he was at the top of the waiting list for an apartment at Sunset Villa, where he would prefer to live permanently. However, he found out his application was denied by the property manager M’akola Housing Society on May 1.
B.C. Housing did not immediately return requests for comment from the Northern View.