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Raleigh senior points out need for affordable housing in St. Anthony

Lemuel Taylor, 73, is required to live near a health centre due to severe back pain, but he is unable to find an affordable place to stay in St. Anthony.
Lemuel Taylor, 73, is required to live near a health centre due to severe back pain, but he is unable to find an affordable place to stay in St. Anthony. - Stephen Roberts

Lemuel Taylor, who suffers mobility issues due to severe back pain, is seeking a place to live near a health centre

RALEIGH, N.L. —

Finding a place to live in St. Anthony isn’t always easy for a senior with low income.

For nearly two years, Lemuel Taylor says he has been searching and failing to find a place to stay.

The 73-year-old man currently lives on his own in the town of Raleigh, some 30 kilometres outside of St. Anthony.

In recent years, severe back pain has greatly hindered his mobility. Shoveling snow, in the harsh Great Northern Peninsula winters, has come with increasing difficulty for Taylor.

He says even putting on his socks has become a chore.

These difficulties, and the need to move closer to a health center, has rendered his present living situation untenable and pushed him to find a place to stay in St. Anthony.

But despite his best efforts, there doesn’t seem to be anything available for the man.

Taylor's health issues start a few years ago. He first had a hip replacement in 2013. Three years later, he had spinal surgery.

Now, he’s currently awaiting another surgery on his back.

He's tried painkillers, acupuncture, has seen a pain specialist, but the pain remains.

"I'm always experiencing pain," he told The Northern Pen.

Taylor has applied to a number of apartments around St. Anthony.

In November 2017, a physician sent a letter to NL Housing in support of Taylor’s application. The letter recommends that Taylor live closer to a health centre due to his medical issues.

Other letters have been sent by physicians and staff at Charles S. Curtis Memorial on his behalf, but nothing has opened up for Taylor.

He's also inquired into the McConnell Complex, run by Labrador-Grenfell Health but has been told there are no openings available.

He has looked into the Harbourview Apartment and, while there was an opening, he was unable to take it because he says his back issue would make it difficult climbing the stairs.

Taylor has stayed at the Shirley's Haven Personal Care Home, but that didn't work out either, as there are two residents per apartment and he is determined that he wanted the privacy of his own apartment.

Meanwhile, the town council is opening a seniors complex on Ollerhead Drive, but Taylor is unable to afford an apartment there.

St. Anthony Basin Resources Inc. (SABRI) does have plans to develop affordable seniors housing on the grounds of the old Harriot Curtis Collegiate school.

But construction has not started yet.

For now, Taylor is stuck in Raleigh, far away from a health centre and dealing with the harsh realities of winter, where he sometimes relies on his brother to clear snow for him.

"I can't shovel (the snow) anymore," he said. "Where I live, it's right under the hill and I get buried in every time there's a storm."

Despite these difficulties, right now he has nowhere else to turn.

stephen.roberts@northernpen.ca

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