The opening of a 36-unit affordable apartment building in Ladysmith, on Vancouver Island, left adults with developmental disabilities feeling let down yet again. Supporters say that only two of the seven tenants they represent were even interviewed by the building, which initially made the promise to give priority to those with developmental disabilities.
Only one of the two people interviewed was able to get an apartment. 44-year-old Amy McMillan was interviewed. She didn’t get an apartment. Her mother, Shelia, says she was quizzed about appliances that worked, such as the stove and air conditioner.
After she was interviewed, it was determined that Amy couldn’t live alone. However, she has been living independently since 2007. She also works two part-time jobs and receives services from Community Living B.C..
The McMillans are members of the Ladysmith Supported Housing Committee, which had previously complained to the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal about how the units were allocated.
According to them, the Heart on the Hill building was initially designed with an equitable focus on seniors, low-income families, and adults with developmental disabilities.
Stan Skelton, who said the project began in his living room, hoped his son Mark could move into the building. The non-profit Ladysmith Resources Centre Association (LRCA) began the project, which was funded by B.C. Housing.
The LRCA’s current board of directors says in an open letter written this summer that the previous board did not honor the project’s original intent — to prioritize one-third of the units each to seniors, families, and people with developmental disabilities — when it signed an operation agreement with B.C. Housing in May 2021.
According to the letter, the new board was elected last year after families learned that the unit division would not be equitable. The families attempted to amend the agreement, but B.C. Housing did not allow it.
Hopefully, by recognizing how hard it is to find accessible housing, we can all work together to minimize housing barriers for disabled people because accessible housing should be easier to find. For disabled people, accessible housing is life-changing.
Marlow, Kathryn. “Woman with Developmental Disabilities Denied Unit in Affordable Housing Project | CBC News.” CBCnews, CBC/Radio Canada, 15 Sept. 2023, http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/woman-disabilities-heartbroken-affordable-apartment-1.6967261.