Halifax father turns to Kijiji as son faces 8-year wait for supported housing

Earlier this month, Jeff Pearson posted an ad on the online classified site Kijiji looking for roommates in a similar situation as his son.

Jeff Pearson says he's unhappy with the wait time and his 22-year-old son would like to move out

Jeff Pearson has turned to Kijiji to try and find his intellectually disabled son a place to live. (CBC)

Jeff Pearson's son is 22, and like many people in his 20s he's keen to move out and live on his own, his father says.

But when Pearson was told last year his son, who has an intellectual disability, would have to wait up to eight years for supported housing through the province, he started contemplating a different approach — Kijiji.

"I wasn't happy with that kind of a wait time, so I continued investigating other avenues, and it seemed to me like it would be better to take matters into my own hands rather than wait for [provincial housing]," Pearson told CBC's Information Morning.

Turning to Kijiji

Earlier this month, Pearson posted an ad on the online classified site Kijiji looking for roommates in a similar situation as his son, whom he asked CBC not to name for privacy reasons.

"His thinking ability is somewhere around say a 12- or 13-year-old boy, but that doesn't mean that he can't learn to do things, it's just going to take a little bit more repetition," he said.

Between the provincial funding his son has access to and the income he can make working part time, Pearson said his son could do well in an apartment with some parental support and a roommate.

"I'm looking for someone that's a match for his abilities and skills, somebody who would be an equal partner as a roommate."

Seeking a small options home

Pearson has not found a place for his son through Kijiji and said the response has been "underwhelming."

But his pitch is an attempt to create a living situation for his son that could be hard to secure through the province, regardless of how long he's prepared to wait.

Following his son's assessment with the province, Pearson said he was told his son was a low priority for housing because he's not in a crisis situation  — and that his first placement, when it happens, would be in a group home, rather than a small-options home.

Pearson said a group home, with a higher number of residents and stricter rules, would not be ideal for his son. 

In an email Friday, a spokespersom with the Department of Community Services said it's changing its funding model to provide individuals with disabilities more choice about how and where they live, including with a roommate.

The department said it's committed to reducing wait times for housing. 

Underwhelming response

Pearson said although it's true his son has family support and isn't in a crisis situation, he's hoping to find his son housing while Pearson is still working and can provide financial support if needed.

So far, Kijiji hasn't moved him any closer to that goal: "I've only gotten one response and … it was more of a rant about not enough housing for people with disabilities."

Still, Pearson said he's optimistic.

"I'm kind of hoping that this might pique some interest and if not, we'll have to look at maybe putting the word out there in classified ads, with newspapers, something like that." 

With files from CBC's Information Morning