March 19, 2019 2:25 pm
Updated: March 20, 2019 1:42 pm

‘It’s a sad situation’: Developer creating shared housing for people with physical disabilities

WATCH: A developer has begun creating a four-unit co-housing apartment for people with physical disabilities that they want to see used as a pilot project but before it can become a reality provincial funding to staff it is needed. Jeremy Keefe reports.

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A development company in Halifax says fixing the housing problem young adults with physical disabilities are experiencing is “very simple,” and is prepared to show the province exactly what they mean.

EcoGreen Homes has an office on Gottingen Street near Cornwallis Street, just a few steps from one of their already underway construction projects. They’re creating a several-storied apartment building with 300-square-foot dwellings on the upper levels.

On the main floor they have other plans.

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“We’ve designed a four-unit co-housing shared attendant care apartment for people who have level three and four disability,” explained Ed Edelstein from EcoGreen Homes.

“This is a four-bedroom apartment with a larger than normal common space and a two well-designed handicap accessible bathrooms,” he said. “The bedrooms are slightly larger than normal so the attendants can lift them in and out of the bed.”

READ MORE: ‘We feel like we’re the forgotten population’: N.S. disability advocate calls for dedicated care homes

Physical disability advocates have been calling on the province to provide more long-term care options as many young adults are finding themselves with no other choice, but to live in nursing home settings that aren’t ideally suited to their needs.

Homes that cater to the elderly where younger disabled residents say they feel alone, having no like-minded peers to keep company.

Edelstein says once a business associate told him about the living situation many physically disabled Nova Scotians are forced to ensure he wanted to do something right away to help.

“I became interested and that led to the design of this apartment,” he said. “These are young adults who right now have no other way of living with other young adults or they’re sequestered in locked down dementia facilities. That’s just not an acceptable situation.”

“It’s a very sad situation that I had no idea about before this casual conversation.”

The shared housing space would provide the tenants with a balcony overlooking a daycare facility, a rooftop garden and patio with a view of the city, and easy access to transit and local businesses.

Benefits Edelstein believes would contribute to an enormous step up in the quality of the long-term care residents’ lives.

“This is Downtown Halifax, they could wheelchair down the street to LF Bakery or the Foggy Goggle Restaurant,” he explained.

“They also have on their balcony at the rear of their unit a view of the daycare playground,” he went on. “So it’s a kind of complimentary use that they’ll be watching children playing in a playground, that’s kind of nice.”

READ MORE: ‘It’s basically a warehouse for the dying’: Nova Scotians call for overhaul of long-term care homes

Currently the only issue stopping their dreams from becoming reality is a need for government funding to ensure adequate staffing for the housing space can be provided.

In a statement, the provincial government said, “As part of our ongoing transformation under the Department of Community Services, we continue to work with stakeholders and clients to improve our programs and services. Through this work, DCS has put an emphasis on taking innovative approaches to finding solutions that work best for our clients. When we receive any proposal that aligns with our program outcomes and policies, we conduct a review to determine the feasibility of the proposal.”

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