Mother, son with disabilities wait 19 months in motel for social housing

After 19 months living in a cramped motel room, a mother and her son with disabilities are hoping they won't have to wait much longer for a place to call home.

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Karen Belaire and her son, George, moved into an Ottawa motel in June, 2014.

At the time, Belaire says, the city told her the arrangement was only a temporary solution until social housing spaces opened up.

"I was told that it could be up to four months, it could be seven months, it could be nine months, even with (George's) urgent medical status and being at the top of the wait list." she told CTV Ottawa.

Instead, she says they've spent more than a year-and-a-half in the motel, where they are short on space and privacy.

The 4.5-by-six-metre lodgings would be a tight fit for most families, but Belaire says George's medical equipment takes up what little room there is.

George, 17, was born with one failing kidney, bladder problems, epilepsy, autism and impaired vision.

He relies on Belaire for help with a number of tasks, including eating.

George's conditions also make it difficult for him to deal with stairs, Belaire said, so the family needs a home with bedrooms and a washroom on the ground floor.

"George is not good with stairs, and the only units in Ottawa that have washrooms on the main floor are three-bedroom units," she said.

Because she and her son are only two people, however, Belaire says they aren't eligible for the three-bedroom homes. This means they've been left with an extended wait, despite George's medical needs.

As they hold out for a home of their own, Belaire says they're making due by using the motel room's entertainment area as a place to prepare food, and relying on the single sink in the washroom.

"A home where we could spread out a little bit and I could have more than one sink would be wonderful," she said.

The City of Ottawa said it couldn't comment on a specific housing case, but in a statement it said the system prioritizes people with medical needs.

"Those who have waited the longest are offered assistance first, with priority given to victims of abuse, people who are homeless, urgent safety or medical needs," Aaron Burry, the general manager of community and housing services, said.

According to a 2015 survey by the Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association, the average Ontario applicant spends 3.83 years on a waitlist before receiving rent-geared-to-income housing.

With files from CTV Ottawa


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