North

Behchoko man with ALS finally getting a home with a ramp

John Mantla will be moving into a more accessible home in Behchoko. N.W.T., within the next few weeks, according to the president of the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation.

John Mantla, 59, says he'd been lobbying the N.W.T. housing corporation for about a year

John Mantla lives in a government housing unit in Behchoko, N.W.T., After lobbying the territorial housing corporation for either a ramp or a more accessible unit, he's now learned he's moving. (Alex Brockman/CBC)

John Mantla will be moving into a more accessible home in Behchoko. N.W.T., within the next few weeks, according to the president of the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation.

Mantla, 59, has ALS, a degenerative muscular disease that is slowly paralyzing him. Two flights of stairs at his government-owned unit make it impossible for him to leave without the help of at least two other people.

Mantla told CBC News last week that he'd been lobbying the corporation for about a year to either build a ramp at his current home or move him to a different unit but that nothing concrete had been done.

Since the unit is owned by the government, Mantla was not allowed to install a ramp on his own.

On Wednesday, Tom Williams, the president and CEO of the housing corporation, pledged to have Mantla in a unit equipped with a ramp within the next few weeks.

"We found a three-bedroom unit that will have a ramp, we can install a ramp, so he's in the process of moving," Williams said.

"We have to move a family out of that three-bedroom unit and he'll move in."

A specific move-in date for Mantla and his family hasn't been set yet, because of the modifications that need to happen at his new unit, Williams said.

It takes at least two people to help John Mantla get down the steps at his current home. (Mary Powder/CBC)

Mantla turned down 2-bedroom unit

Williams said the housing corporation first received a report of Mantla's request for a ramp or a more accessible unit in November 2017.

At the time, officials with the housing corporation looked at his current home and determined it was too high for a ramp. They told Mantla a two-bedroom unit would be made available but it didn't work for Mantla, Williams said.

"It was really up to the tenant himself, he had the opportunity to move into a two-bedroom unit that would have met his accessibility needs and he was reluctant to move," Williams said. "He adamantly wanted a three-bedroom unit."

I need a place that has three bedrooms for my daughter and sons. They need to be able to take care of me.- John Mantla

Inadequate housing is a chronic issue in Behchoko, about 100 kilometres north of Yellowknife. Overcrowding is common and dozens of people don't have a place to live.

There are few options for people with disabilities and Williams said there were further challenges as Mantla did not want to move into the two-bedroom unit.  

"We don't have the luxury in many of our small communities on the availability of units, but we were lucky we were able to accommodate him," Williams said.

Kids take care of him

For Mantla, a three-bedroom unit was non-negotiable because he needs his kids to care for him, he said Thursday.

"I need a place that has three bedrooms for my daughter and sons. They need to be able to take care of me," he said.

Mantla confirmed that he has agreed to move into the three-bedroom unit and is cautiously optimistic the housing corporation will follow through with their promise.

But he believes the move wouldn't be happening if he hadn't spoken out. 

"Without you guys, they wouldn't have done nothing," he told CBC News. 

Last week, officials with the housing corporation declined an interview, but they agreed to one this week after Mantla gave them permission to speak about his case publicly.  

The second set of stairs outside John Mantla's home are steep and narrow. The president and CEO of the housing corporation says Mantla will be moving into a unit equipped with a ramp in a few weeks. (Mary Powder/CBC)
 

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