For seniors In Inuvik, N.W.T., foreclosure spells disaster

Gerry and Elizabeth Hamilton say the Northwest Territories isn’t equipped to deal with the growing senior population. ‘It seems to me they're saying ‘Don't get old. And if you do get old, get out of the territories and go some place else.’
After losing their home to foreclosure, Elizabeth and Gerry Hamilton aren't sure Inuvik is the place for them. 'There's no major crimes the ways there are in cities, there's no traffic jams the way there are in cities, so all in all it's a good place to live. But if you can't afford to live as a senior citizen up here, what good is it?' (David Thurton)

Elizabeth and Gerry Hamilton describe their situation as “desperate.”

The elderly couple in Inuvik, N.W.T. says they're on the verge of homelessness.

They had a house, but with a bad economy, the couldn’t afford the mortgage payments.

“The home was supposed to be our retirement plan,” Gerry says.

The couple says the public system in the Northwest Territories isn’t equipped to deal with the growing senior population.

They thought they would be able to go into public housing after the bank seized their home, but in Inuvik, there’s a long list of people waiting for homes, and they were told there was no room for them.

The territory’s income assistance program is offering to pay for a bachelor apartment for the couple, but the landlord who manages the apartment won’t allow pets.

Even if the landlord accepted their dog, a Bishon Frisé, Elizabeth says the apartment is too small, and won’t work for her anyway.

“I have so many disabilities, I’m afraid I’ll fall,” she says. “We know we have to downsize to go into housing but we can't just get rid of all our stuff. We still have to live.”

Inuvik Boot Lake MLA Alfred Moses says he’s working on the case.

“What we are doing right now, we are have discussions with [the department of Education, Culture and Employment] and we are having discussions with the housing authority to see how we can get the individuals in a public housing unit.”

But Gerry says he’s getting a different message.

“It seems to me they're saying ‘Don't get old. And if you do get old, get out of the territories and go some place else.’”

The Hamiltons do have a place to move into next month, but they're still not sure where they'll find the money to pay April's rent.

Or whether Inuvik is the place for them.

“There's no major crimes the ways there are in cities, there's no traffic jams the way there are in cities, so all in all it's a good place to live. But if you can't afford to live as a senior citizen up here, what good is it?”

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