A St. John’s man who was days away from becoming homeless is now renting a room in a downtown house. But 67-year-old Bill Hodder says his situation remains far from ideal.
“If you’re looking for improvement, there’s a little bit, but not enough to write home about,” said Hodder, speaking with The Telegram Sunday just outside of the house he is now living in.
Hodder, a pensioner who is also working part-time as a labourer to make ends meet, has a room in a house with three others that he will pay $575 per month to stay in.
He found those accommodations with help from the office of St. John’s Centre NDP MHA Gerry Rogers.
“I’ve never been in a place like this before,” said Hodder, who was able to find the room only a few days after The Telegram published a story about his predicament.
The man had been staying for a couple of months with his girlfriend of four years, Rosemary Soulier, before she recently passed away. Soulier was living in a Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corp. (NLHC) property.
Hodder must complete tax paperwork before he can apply for social housing. The wait list as of mid-January was 831, with approximately 900 applicants placed annually according to NLHC.
Hodder has complained it is almost impossible to find affordable accommodations and purchase other necessities in St. John’s with a pension income.
The independent living environment is difficult for Hodder to manage, given he is not capable of cooking for himself. Hodder said he managed to have one home-cooked meal within the last three weeks.
“I’m no good near a stove, and I was never put in the position before, because there was always somebody there to cook for me,” he explained, adding that the fire department has been called on multiple occasions where Hodder attempted to use a stove.
He eats crackers, bread and jam at the house and visits a corner store if he wants a sandwich. He considered a meals-on-wheels option that would deliver warm food to his home, but said the food would come at 11 a.m. while he is at work.
“You go to work 8 a.m., you get off at 4:30 in the evening and come home. What are you going to do? Eat a sandwich and a biscuit? I mean, there’s not very much nourishment after all that.”
He does not see the house as a permanent fix.
“It’s only temporary, hopefully,” said Hodder, who had looked at another rental property but saw its price climb from $600 per month to $900 per month in less than a day.
“I can’t cope with this one at all.”
NLHC told The Telegram last month that approximately 90 per cent of applicants are looking for one-bedroom apartments, while 80 per cent of existing public housing stock consists of three-bedroom apartments.