At least two homeless people, featured in a special News housing supplement earlier this year, are happy to report they’ll be celebrating Christmas under their own roof.
Last June, Kim Tucker, who had a massive stroke when she was just 36 years old, was living in an RV in a friend’s backyard with her partner.
Now, thanks to the Yukon Housing Corporation, they are enjoying life in a subsidized two-bedroom house in Granger.
Tucker received the good news on July 31, the same day she turned 40.
“It was the best birthday gift ever,” she told the News this week.
“I love it, the peace and quiet, not having to crawl over my bed to use the bathroom, and most of all having room for my granddaughter to play and find trouble,” she said.
And the house came just in time.
Shortly after they moved in, her partner, Kyle Jennex, was put out of commission because of a wrist injury. He’s been unable to work as a welder ever since.
The house they live in is part of the Whitehorse Housing Co-op. This week it was dressed up with Christmas decorations. A whole army of Santa dolls, some up to two feet tall, occupy nearly every corner of the spacious house.
“I’m a bit crazy about Christmas. It’s a family tradition,” she said. “I got it from my Mom. I’ve got about 20 years worth of decorations. There’s still some in storage.”
As a result of the stroke, Tucker can no longer work as an accountant. She’s done some retraining to become a counsellor and would like to open her own business counselling the disabled.
Tucker tried to do a feasibility workshop with Dana Naye Ventures, but the full-time program proved to be too hard on her.
Tucker said she’ll likely have difficulty with balance and concentration for the rest of her life.
“Things are not the best but we are blessed to have subsidized housing, so when things go downhill we still have a place to live,” she said.
“It’s been up and down for sure, but we’re still alive, so that’s a good thing.”
Robert (who wished to remain anonymous) was also made homeless by an illness. Like Tucker, his situation has also improved.
When the News first interviewed him in June, Robert was living with his ex-wife and eight-year-old son in Riverdale while searching for an affordable apartment.
He had lost his home after having to declare bankruptcy and was recovering from multiple surgeries.
Robert has a chronic gastrointestinal condition, and has been sick off-and-on for the past six years.
The illness took a drastic turn for the worse in the fall of 2009. He was unable to work, and his disability pay only amounted to about 70 per cent of his former wage.
He was scraping by but then some water pipes blew in his home. When the furnace also went, his finances completely fell apart.
Now Robert has his own apartment in Riverdale.
Although he was on the Yukon Housing waiting list as well, his lucky break came from a former customer at the bank.
The man owned a building in Riverdale, and had a two-bedroom apartment that was coming available. And it was exceptionally priced – just $900 a month.
Robert found a roommate and moved in August.
He’s still healing from his surgery and will also have to deal with his condition for the rest of his life.
But he’s well enough now to return to work and has been back at the bank full time for a month now.
The only major problem plaguing Robert is his credit rating, which his bankruptcy decimated.
Even given the extenuating circumstances, no bank, not even the one he works for, wants to be the first to give Robert a credit card.
“You can’t do anything in the North without a credit card,” he said.
Contact Chris Oke at firstname.lastname@example.org