Housing crisis for adults with developmental disabilities grows in Ontario: families
TORONTO — Twenty-eight-year-old Joshua Kadysiewicz has developmental disabilities and despite being a happy, social young man his mother is worried about his future.
When both his parents had health issues at the same time, the only emergency housing the government provided was in a home for elderly people with physical disabilities.
“The phone calls, ‘I’m not happy mom, I want to come home.’ He would phone me prior to bedtime, and he wouldn’t get off the phone,” said his mom, Brenda Kadysiewicz.
Then things got even worse.
After a few weeks, case workers told her she had only one option if she wasn’t able to care for him at home.
“We would have to declare him homeless and he would be put in a shelter,” said Kadysiewicz.
Her story is disturbingly similar story to another Ontario man, Keith Fentie, who has autism.
“I basically had to declare him homeless,” said his mom, Susan Fentie-Pearce.
She said Keith spent over a year in a hospital psychiatric unit waiting for appropriate housing.
After their report aired, Global News was flooded with similar stories.
One family sent photos of another young man, who also has autism, locked in a pysch ward.
He spent three months there and now has “temporary” housing while the family desperately scrambles to find him something more permanent.
But Ontario Minister of Community and Social Services Helena Jaczek wasn’t interested in talking about the issue.
Her staff declined several interview requests from Global News.
When approached at Queen’s Park, Jaczek asked, “Are you sure you want to talk to me?”
She said she could not discuss a specific case and that families in general should talk to their case worker or Developmental Services Ontario.
The founder of a day program for young adults, called DANI, said their parents have already tried everything.
Every participant in the program, is on the wait list for housing, including the founder’s son.
“As we speak, the government wait list is longer than my son’s lifespan,” said Kathy Laszlo.
14,000 adults with developmental disabilities are wait listed for housing and the Ontario Ombudsman has been investigating the issue for three years.
“The investigation is pending. We continue to handle individual complaints (we have had more than 1,360 to date), as we pursue the systemic issues,” the Ombudsman’s office said in a statement.
“A report and recommendations are in the process of being drafted.”
Jaczek wouldn’t say how long it will take to cut down on the wait list, or offer solutions to parents.
When she was told that families were taking their adult children to hospitals and checking them in to the psychiatric wards in desperation, Jaczek said she could not speak directly to their case.
“We need to hear about that specific case, I’m sorry you are not able to give me that kind of information,” she said, then walked away, adding, “I have to go.”
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