Man hunting for a home

Barb Sweet
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Says medical conditions make it difficult to find apartment

The Kilbride home where Glen Cummings rents an apartment is up for sale and he’s been trying to find other accommodations. — Photo by Barb Sweet/The Telegram

Glen Cummings has a few things going against him when it comes to an apartment search.

For one, because he has epilepsy — suffering frequent prolonged seizures — and cerebral palsy, which affects muscle co-ordination, the features of an apartment are important.

A flat entryway is best and so is a seamless line of flooring that doesn’t pose tripping risks because of his balance issues. French doors can pose a worry about falling into the glass.

Secondly, Cummings has a rental budget of $800 plus utilities. That makes the search for the right apartment harder as he encounters advertisements citing rents upwards of $1,500.

And because of his income source — through community health and income support — the middle-age Kilbride man is among the prospective tenants unwelcome to some landlords.

The Kilbride apartment he found roughly two years ago when it was brand new is perfect.


Cummings’ current apartment is a basement, but it’s above ground with a level entrance to the street. But about three weeks ago, a for sale sign went up outside the home. He said he hasn’t been given an eviction notice, but the company that owns the home advised him it was for sale.

Fair enough — homes are bought and sold and he has no complaint against the company.

But the prospect of what will happen in future has Cummings worried and he’s already started a search, though his good health days are few and far between.

“I don’t think I’m going to find a place better than this,” he said, speaking with a weakened voice during an interview at his home.

“Some people might say whoever buys it might let me stay, but I can’t depend on that. Where I am now here two years, this is where I would rather stay. That may sound selfish.  I also said to myself in a way (when I moved in) I won’t be here too long. I had an idea that somewhere in the back of my mind it would be sold.

“It’s not good and another part is I just can’t worry about it anymore. Whatever happens got to happen. I don’t know if it’s a silly way to think about it, but how can you think about something when you are going through hell (health wise)?”

Even if the new owner decides to let him stay, there is the risk of the rent going up once the house is sold. He’s found it’s difficult to find something in his price range already.

“Forgive me for laughing, it can be difficult,” Cummings said, chuckling when asked how the search is going.

“Because it can be $800, $900 $1,000, $1,500.”


Not many good days

Sam Fowler, his home care worker four days a week, has called about ads for Cummings, especially when he’s not well — she counts about six good days in the last five months she’s worked with him.

“Four days I am here since last week and today is the first day I have seen him well,” Fowler said.

“I have been helping him look. No one will do it where he is on social assistance.

When she calls about apartment ads, they usually ask her if Cummings is paying his own rent or is someone paying for him.

“And you can’t lie to them, right? I just tells them and they are ignorant about it actually. I called a nice few in the last two weeks and no one will do it,” Fowler said, adding she’s explained his medical concerns.

The young woman is surprised at the reaction.

“One missus on Blackmarsh said he can come view the place. All of a sudden she is like, ‘How is he paying? I told her and she said ‘No we’re not doing it, forget about it.’”

Cummings said he did look at two apartments — one in Kilbride and another in Airport Heights. The one in Airport Heights, at $875, was more suited to students and had tripping risks. The other apartment was new, but had narrow steps to the entrance and it didn’t appear the landlords were willing to take him on because of his medical issues.

Cummings previously lived in the west end of old St. John’s for

3 1/2 years.

“Even taxi drivers used to say this to me: ‘You should get a better place to live,’ ” Cummings said, explaining the steps were tricky, though he had gotten used to them.

He said his social worker at the time put him on to the Kilbride apartment he now lives in. According to Cummings, this time around with a different social worker, he was advised finding another place was his concern.

“Which it is. At the same time I hardly feel well enough to bother with anything some days. I am only being honest,” he said.

Organizations: Airport Heights

Geographic location: Kilbride

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Recent comments

  • G. S
    July 11, 2013 - 19:56

    I so agree with DISGUSTED. What a travesty! And in Newfoundland, above all places!

  • carogers
    July 11, 2013 - 08:32

    Social Worker #1 had a heart, empathy for her client Social Worker #2 did not, just collects her pay and does the minimal required of her job. We need rent control so people can afford to live a decent life.

  • Disgusted
    July 11, 2013 - 07:55

    This is an unfortunate truth about St. Johns. With the push in oil money and so called economic prosperity, the people of the province begin to show what really matters to them. Their own selfish bottom line. There was once a time when the people of Newfoundlander and Labrador were globally known as loving people to their own and to strangers. Yet when I look around St. Johns, seeing the homeless, the hungry, the sickness and the poverty, I wonder what has taken us to this point, and I feel ashamed to call myself a Newfoundlander. To all of you who would hold this mans source of income against him, and to those of you who charge outrageous rental rates to those who can barely make ends meet, there may come a time when you need someone, when your old, when your ill, when you have to rely on the kindness of others.....what will you do then?

  • Brad
    July 11, 2013 - 06:28

    If this gentleman has a signed lease, wouldn't it be beneficial for the new owner to honour that lease considering the buyer can use that rental income as justification? Are the even supposed to honour that lease when ownership transfers anyway?