Smiths Falls woman in need of accessible, affordable housing
SMITHS FALLS, ONT. -- Courtney Preece is like many others in Ontario right now looking for a home—she needs something affordable. The major difference for Preece though is she needs accessible housing for her wheelchair.
“There is nothing that is in my price range and accessible,” says the 27-year-old mother of one. “Anything that is in my price range is either a one bedroom—I need two—or it’s down a flight of stairs or up a flight of stairs.”
Preece says she is in need of a one-floor home with an open concept plan to maneuver her wheelchair. She also lives on a fixed monthly income, receiving about $1600 per month through the Ontario Disability Support Program. The financial limits combined with the need for accessible housing cuts Preece’s options for housing down to almost nothing.
“There are bachelors going for $1100, $1200 [a month],” says Preece. “Rooms for rent are now $900. It’s impossible.” Preece adds that there are recently built accessible apartments in Smiths Falls, but those are also renting for $2200 per month.
Preece and her 6-year-old son Grayson have to move out of their rental by May 31, after the landlord sold to new owners who plan to move in themselves. Preece says she and her son have to stay in town as she depends on family nearby for transportation.
“Affordable rental properties are almost non-existent,” says Linda McKenna, a local realtor with Royal Lepage Advantage. McKenna has been in contact with Preece after hearing of her story to try to find the family a new place to live.
“Really not many, not many at all,” said McKenna when asked how often she comes across accessible housing in Smiths Falls. “I mean, accessibility is becoming more of an issue now when they are building, and hopefully in the future we’re going to see more available, but right now it’s very limited.”
Erynn Williamson, a friend of Preece, has now started a GoFundMe campaign to help raise money for the family in any way possible.
“It’s scary, it’s terrifying,” says Williamson, who lives away from her friend in Edmonton. “Especially when pertaining to Courtney and Grayson, you have a young single mother with a young son that is facing homelessness.”
The goal is to either raise money to help contribute to rent, or in the event enough money is raised, use it as a down payment to buy Preece her own accessible home.
“Something needs to be done,” says Williamson. “She’s only one of how many people that are struggling with finding suitable housing.”
McKenna tells CTV Ottawa she came across one potential property in the area for Preece, but isn’t sure of anything in this unprecedented market. “You know I think it’s really going to require thinking outside the box to see if we can come up with some kind of solution to this problem.”
Preece says the house hunt has been going on since February and has been taking its toll. “Absolutely frustrated and defeated. Not only for myself but for my son because now he’s facing having no home of his own.”
The mother is hoping the good nature of others is what will find her a home in the end. “Basically what I think it’s going to come down to is a landlord just saying, look I want to help, this is what I’ll charge you, I’ll be understanding.”