London

This man is finally getting his own place after months on the street

Reinhart Gauss has been living on the street and in shelters for a year and a half. Last week, he learned he was getting his own apartment through a city-funded program that places homeless individuals in affordable housing.

Reinhart Gauss will move into his one-bedroom apartment on Friday

Reinhart Gauss spoke with London Morning's Rebecca Zandbergen on Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019. (Rebecca Zandbergen/CBC News)

The last couple of years have been difficult for Reinhart Gauss.

The 65-year old gave up his apartment a year and a half ago when he could no longer afford it. But Gauss, who recently began collecting CPP, figured he'd just find a cheaper place.

"They put up the rent in my last apartment after the lease wore out, to about $900 a month and I just couldn't afford that kind of money at that time, so I thought no problem," explained Gauss, who then started hunting for a new place.

"I couldn't find anything at a $1000 a month," he said. "I did not expect that. Did not see that coming at all."

He also didn't imagine what his life would look like for the next year and a half. Gauss began sleeping rough with just a sleeping bag in Springbank Park. He then bounced around from shelters, motel rooms and friends' places and added his name to CMHA's Housing First wait list.

At one point, Gauss wound up in the hospital with kidney failure. He nearly died.

A knock at the door

For the last few months, Gauss has been living at the Salvation Army's Centre of Hope on Wellington St. and last week, he got a knock at his door. 

The CMHA had a unit for Gauss. 

"It's high end. I had no idea, and obviously I can't say my first words. It was quite a shock," said Gauss who was recently taken to view his apartment at Revo on 700 King St. which is managed by Medallion Corporation.

Gauss said he'll be paying about $800 a month, something he can manage.

CMHA's Housing First program is funded through the city of London and helps people who are homeless find secure and permanent housing. Social workers are also available to help people once they move into their new homes. 

"It's like a dream," said Gauss, who moves in on Friday. "What the f—? That's pretty well all that came out of my mouth for the last four days."  

"I've lived in really pretty nice apartments. This nice? No. Not too many people are going to live in an apartment this nice." His new building has a gym, screening room, and a lounge.

I"ll probably spend the first three weeks in the shower.- Reinhart Gauss

 

It won't be a strenuous move. Gauss doesn't have much. "I don't have anything to my name. I really have nothing. When you live on the street, you better be careful with what you have cause it will be taken in a damn hurry," explained Gauss, who will now work on furnishing the unit.

Gauss admitted he's one of the lucky ones. So will he feel bad talking about his new digs? "Absolutely not," he chuckled. "Absolutely not. I will talk about it from the shower because I'll probably spend the first three weeks in the shower."

Reinhart Gauss has been on the housing affordability waitlist for months and his wait is finally over. This Friday Gauss moves into an apartment thanks to CMHA's housing first program. Gauss talked to London Morning host Rebecca Zandbergen about his new apartment. 7:03

Advocate for homeless

Gauss said he won't forget about his time on the street. In fact, he said he'll use what he learned to advocate for the city's homeless.

"I am not keeping quiet, and you'd better watch out for me because I'm going to be coming. When I get that apartment, and I get some rest, I'm not letting this go. These people need a place and there's just no reason for it," said Gauss, who admitted he gets really angry about the city's homeless crisis.

"I'm just so tired of the who's who of London flapping their gums."

And Gauss has advice for those who want to help in London. "I challenge anybody from city hall, any staff member, anybody who really cares, you sleep rough for a couple days...come in their ballpark, don't invite them into yours," he said.

"Come and spend a day or two with them. Then you'll get answers."