To read on The Huffington Post website:
Warehoused: Nova Scotians With Intellectual Disabilities Face A Housing Crisis
The Huffington Post Canada | By Investigative Workshop, University of King’s College
A system in crisis
Nancy Walker’s partner had never seen her so upset. She had cried through the entire meeting with her son’s social worker, and would continue to cry “pretty much for the whole year. Every single day.”
This isn’t what she’d wanted. This isn’t what she’d wanted at all.
Ben James, her 19-year-old boy-becoming-man, had severe autism. He was in public school and had improved his communication by using picture-and-words systems and new technologies available for autistic people on iPods. He loved swimming, went bowling once a week and thrived at his recycling centre job.Walker had dreams for him.
But James could be violent. The six-foot-two, 230-pound teenager’s kicks, scratches, bites and head butts were nearly always aimed at his mother. Despite the stronghold that was his bedroom – reinforced walls, double studding, a Plexiglas window and a steel door – Walker still had to find ways of avoiding her son’s demands, and physical outbursts when they weren’t met.
She took to long drives around their Halifax neighbourhood “looking” for things he wanted but really just waiting for him to fall asleep. She was rarely home, where she had a partner and another child pining for her attention. Walker realized she had a choice between two evils: Either she would have to leave the home, or James would.
James has been living at Quest since 2009, and Walker no longer cries as much.
Now she is just angry.
She is angry that her son, as a person with a developmental disability, will never have the same opportunities as his 17-year-old brother.
She is angry that he is deprived of a home-like environment, of the basic freedoms in life and of the opportunity to grow. And she is furious at a system that allows that to happen.
There is a housing crisis in Canada preventing people with intellectual disabilities, fully 900,000 people according to the Canadian Association for Community Living, or two per cent of the country’s population, from leading normal lives. In Nova Scotia, the system has been under strain for more than a decade. And unlike other provinces that have moved more quickly to house people with intellectual disabilities in smaller, home-like facilities, Nova Scotia has chosen to keep larger institutions such as Quest open and, in some cases, even to expand them.