Bankrupted by illness

Less than two years ago, Robert (not his real name) was healthy, had a middle-class job and owned his own home. But then he got sick. In June, when he spoke to the News, Robert was on disability.

Less than two years ago, Robert (not his real name) was healthy, had a middle-class job and owned his own home.

But then he got sick.

In June, when he spoke to the News, Robert was on disability and recovering from multiple surgeries; had declared bankruptcy and lost his home; and was living with his ex-wife while searching for a suitable apartment to rent.

Robert has a chronic gastrointestinal condition, and has been sick off-and-on for the past six years.

The illness took a sudden turn for the worse in the fall of 2009.

At the time, he was working for a local bank, but he also had a second job to bring in a little extra money.

When he went on disability, he only received 70 per cent of his former wage at the bank – missing out on the entire second income.

The money wasn’t enough to meet mortgage payments while also covering the rest of Robert’s expenses, not to mention caring for his young son.

In late 2010, he had to declare bankruptcy and give up the house.

It was around that time that he had two surgeries done.

Having nowhere else to go, Robert rented a room in his ex-wife’s apartment.

It was great getting to live with his son full-time again, he said.

But living with his ex wasn’t exactly ideal.

The doctors told Robert that he’d be fully recovered and ready to return to work by February.

However, there were some complications, and the wounds were not healing properly. By February he was still too sick to work.

He applied to Yukon Housing and was put on its wait list.

“They keep moving me up the list because my doctors, home care, and psychiatrist have all written them letters – trying to get me out of here,” he said.

“But, I mean, it’s been five months and there hasn’t been any movement at all.”

In March, surgeons at Whitehorse General Hospital had referred Robert to doctors Outside.

He was still waiting to get an appointment.

Meanwhile, Robert is left searching for a place to live that will fit his budget.

“I could get by paying $600 a month, possibly $750.”

Most of the places that he’s looked at in this price range have been small rooms in houses with three or four other people.

Most of these places want roommates who are working full-time.

There would never be a place for his son to sleep when he came to visit.

And, adding to his problems, Robert owns a cat.

Most places that he’s looked at – the ones that allow pets anyway – already have dogs living in the home.

“There’s nothing out there for a decent price that’s suitable,” he said.

“If you’re a healthy, single, 20- to 30-year-old individual you’re fine. But otherwise….”

Right now, Robert’s being a bit picky – searching for a place to rent that has space for his son, his cat, and is dust- and mould-free.

He’s also hoping that Yukon Housing comes through.

But if it comes down to it, he’ll take whatever housing he can get.

“It could be a lot worse,” he said.

“I know, for a fact, that people are in far worse situations than I am.”

Contact Chris Oke at

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