New Glasgow woman with chemical sensitivities fights public housing eviction
Authority says 65-year-old is 'over-housed' but delays eviction until July so new home can be found
The Department of Community Services has agreed to wait until the end of July to evict a 65-year-old woman with severe chemical sensitivities from her public housing unit in New Glasgow, in order to give staff more time to find her suitable accommodations.
The Eastern Mainland Housing Authority said Wendy Kearley, who lives alone in a three-bedroom unit now that her three children have moved out, is "over-housed" and must move to a smaller unit to free up space for a larger family.
The initial eviction date was set for March 31, 2015.
But moving to a smaller unit would compromise her health, Kearley said, so she fought the eviction notice in Nova Scotia Supreme Court. A judge rejected her appeal in February.
"They don't move a paraplegic into a place that has no elevator and has stairs," she said. "Until they can provide me with a multiple chemically sensitive safe home, which there are none available in Nova Scotia, I need to stay here."
Kearley said she gets sick from exposure to everyday chemicals such as perfume, tobacco, and pesticides. Her home has been scent-free for 10 years, she said, and all visitors must wear a haz-mat suit before entering. She never goes outside.
Kearley said since the court ruling she received another eviction notice — this one dated April 30, 2016 — but nobody arrived on that day.
A spokeswoman with the Department of Community Services confirmed Tuesday that staff would allow Kearley to remain in the unit for another three months, while they work to find appropriate housing for her.
Kearley said she had received neither written nor verbal confirmation that her eviction had been delayed.
Alternative units offered
The housing authority offered Kearley two alternative apartments, but she didn't look at them. She said that's because going outside makes her ill, and neither option is detached and she can't be exposed to scents from neighbouring tenants.
Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice Patrick Murray wrote in his decision upholding the eviction that the landlord made reasonable efforts to find other units that met her needs, and that Kearley "did not offer any evidence to support her position that maybe the two units offered had something wrong with them."
Kearley said she's not feeling positive about what the future holds.
"Unless a miracle happens that something safe comes up for me to move into, I wait until the sheriff comes to move me out and then I will be homeless," she said.
"I find it hard to believe that a government would put a person in this place to make this choice. How can they do that? They know that they're discriminating against somebody with a disability but they choose to do so."
With files from Maritime Noon