I’ll be 72 this week. And I have been living in my affordable housing unit for 18 months. I had a tough time initially when I moved into here, and I didn’t understand why. Then I realized. It felt like the last stop before the graveyard. This wasn’t what I thought I’d be doing at this age.
I owned my own home until 1982. But after my divorce I became one of those statistics where the woman doesn’t financially fare well afterwards. I had to live in a building where they rented out rooms. It’s not the type of building where you could associate or socialize with others. I was embarrassed to say I lived there. I had an undergrad degree from Cape Breton University and had taken two years of Law at UNB.
Just 20 months ago I spent three months homeless, when the beautiful historic apartment building I lived in burned down. I lost everything. Although I was technically homeless I had supports – my friend gave me her bedroom in her house and she stayed with her daughter. I wasn’t sleeping on park benches or heating grates; I had it easy. But it was emotionally very difficult. It was scary. And when I hear some of the stories of things people have endured…my goodness. At the time I was searching for subsidized housing, there were 1300 people on the list. Out of a community this size, that is pretty high. Needless to say, after waiting for 3 months they could have offered me a barn and I would have taken it. This apartment was heaven-sent.
I would love to have my own home again. But for now, I’ve settled right in. We have social activities like poetry and bingo. And I’m also on the national board of directors for Canada Without Poverty as the New Brunswick representative, and a member of the Community Action Group on Homelessness here in Fredericton… Everyone is a just a paycheque away from homelessness. The first steps that need to be taken here in Fredericton are now being taken.
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.