Our Neighbours: Jen
My story of affordable housing in Fredericton is a complete nightmare. There is a definite divide between the rich and poor. We [the poor] are easily abused and no-one will listen. The idea is to isolate people and keep them away from the world. Most people forget that I am poor because I have an education. I am everything they’ve been taught to believe a poor person isn’t.
We had a $250,000 home. We weren’t poor. We were destroyed. My husband lost his job in 2010. I was illegally evicted with extreme force from my home. When you’re suddenly poor, you’re forced to contact slumlords who give you fraudulent leases, keep your security deposits, and steal your money. We found temporary housing but it wouldn’t allow dogs. We got friends to take our cats, and my mother took our other dog. But our big dog was dying. She was also my husband’s emotional support dog – his link to the world during all this. But she didn’t “count” as a service dog.
My husband would leave our temporary housing to sleep with her in a cabin in the woods at night. We all moved out to the woods after we couldn’t find a place we could afford. It was a small camp, but we were outdoors people.
I have been in my affordable housing unit since April. You feel like you have to fight to stay. People here are on edge – insecure. Everyone is capable of bad and good. I want to make a reality that encourages people to be drawn to good. If people don’t have to be in survival mode, worried about the basics like shelter and food, they could work on themselves. But you’re exhausted from surviving.
I want to build this neighbourhood into something that will help people develop themselves, not be the next inmate.
We live in a richly diverse community, but we sometimes don’t see the unique and beautiful individuals and families who live in Fredericton South. Many members of our community are overlooked, some are invisible, and sometimes they are Othered. In the coming months, I want to introduce you to some of our neighbours. They are us. You’ll find our Profiles series on our website starting with the members of our LGBTQ community and continuing this month with those living in poverty.