Imagine not being able to choose where you live and instead having to accept unsafe or inaccessible housing as your only option.
Housing poverty is the reality for more HRM residents than you might think; putting an end to it is one of United Way Halifax’s key mandates. Paul was one of those residents. "I was just a kid when I first left home. It was a hard life. There were 13 in my family, never enough to eat, no money. So, I left."
Since then, Paul has lived all across Canada – hitchhiking from town to town, moving to find work. He picked up whatever jobs he could find: "I’ve done just about everything. I worked on a fishing trawler in Halifax, construction in Toronto, drove a taxi in Saint John’s."
Many years later, Paul ended up back in Halifax where he had lived 25 years before. He was staying at a temporary shelter trying to find something more secure, when a friend told him about an apartment operated by Welcome Housing. "I came to see it and I thought ‘This is it. It’s perfect for me’. It’s just a bachelor but it has its own little deck, a backyard, my own entrance. And it’s quiet."
Welcome Housing & Support Services is a United Way-funded organization that provides long term, secure housing and support to people on low incomes. They believe everybody deserves a safe home – and that’s just what Paul was looking for.
Paul’s chronic respiratory issues mean that he uses an electric scooter to get around; those same issues mean not just any apartment will work for him. But this building was perfect. Paul went to Welcome Housing every day for more than a week to make sure they knew he was serious about the apartment. "I got it! And they built me a shed right outside my door to store my scooter."
On summer days, you’ll find Paul travelling around town or sitting on his front stoop catching up with friends and neighbours. “Every morning I get on the scooter, I go down to the boardwalk with my coffee and chat with people going by.” Ice and snow make winter more of a challenge for Paul’s scooter. But he has many friends who drop by regularly and take him out to run errands.
Paul figures he has everything he needs. “You need a roof over your head, you need to be able to get where you need to go, and you need a couple of friends. I’ve got all that.”
You need a roof over your head, you need to be able to get where you need to go, and you need a couple of friends. I’ve got all that.