Accessible rental housing shortage in Calgary causes frustration

A Calgary man, who must sell his retrofitted accessible home, says he is frustrated by the lack of accessible rental housing in the city.

Mike Hambly, who uses a wheelchair, can't find accessible accommodation

Mike Hambly can't afford to stay in the retrofitted home that he owns, but also can't find a wheelchair accessible rental to move into. (Colleen Underwood/CBC)

A Calgary man fears he may become homeless because of the scarcity of accessible rental accommodation in the city.

Mike Hambly was left blind and paraplegic after a car accident. He currently lives in his retrofitted home in southeast Calgary.

He and his wife are separating and he had hoped to buy out her share of their home. However, he has been unable to secure a bank loan and says they will now have to sell the property.

As a result, Hambly has been searching for wheelchair accessible rental accommodation for two months — a search that has been fruitless and has left him frustrated.

"I can't even go to (my) buddies place and couch surf because their bathrooms aren't accessible," he said.

Hambly, who was employed as a social worker by the Canadian Paraplegic Association until 2012, says the situation is dire for people in his circumstances.

"I've been an advocate for people with disabilities for 15 years and helping people find wheelchair accessible housing.  I don't think it's ever been as bad as it is right now."

No list?

Hambly also says he has been unable to find a list of wheelchair accessible accommodation.

"There is no agency that has a list of wheelchair accessibility out there that I can find and I'm pretty connected," he said.  

Anita Hofer, with Accessible Housing Calgary, agrees there is next to nothing available right now. She say between one and three per cent of rental housing in Calgary is accessible to people in wheelchairs.

"Most landlords don't want to put in a lot of extra improvements to the property where the tenant may not be there that long, so it adds a lot of stress," she said.

Hambly says property owners should be required to make a larger percentage of rental properties accessible to those in wheelchairs.


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