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N.B. man questions province’s rent subsidy rules after welcoming homeless father, son into home – New Brunswick

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Joshua Daigle didn’t hesitate when his pastor called asking if he could welcome a homeless father and son into his home.

“I just took them in because I had the space. It wasn’t a question of money for me,” he said in an interview.

“There is a father and a son who needed somewhere to live, and they didn’t have somewhere to live.”

Mike, who asked Global News to only be identified by his first name, drove to New Brunswick from Ontario in July in search of a fresh start.

Mike had been homeless on and off at several points in his life, having grown up on the streets of East York in Toronto.

He was sleeping in his car for the first six weeks in New Brunswick.

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He contacted the Salvation Army in Fredericton, who put him in touch with Pastor Derek Jones of Fredericton’s Bridge Church. Jones helped him find temporary accommodations.

He was ecstatic when he was told he had access to the province’s rent subsidy, a program in which the province would pay for a large portion of the rent after he found an apartment.

“I broke down in tears because my son looked at me and said, ‘Dad, you did it!’,” he said.

He said trying to find a landlord to rent to him was “terrible,” adding that he faced prejudice from landlords who assumed those using a subsidy may be criminals.

“I was given till November 1st to find a place or the subsidy was off the table,” Mike said.

“I have the email and it bothers me because it didn’t matter what I did it almost seemed like … it’s almost like they’re pushing you to become a statistic and give up. I won’t.”

He has been living with Daigle for a week, and says it’s been an amazing experience.

He can’t use his rent subsidy to pay rent to Daigle, because the province won’t subsidize a living situation where he and his son share a kitchen and bathroom with his landlord.

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In an e-mailed statement sent to Global News on Friday, a representative from the province’s Department of Employment and Social Development said, “To promote adequate living, the Rent Subsidy program requires self-contained units providing living, sleeping, eating, food preparation and sanitary facilities.”

“How can anybody make it if you can’t give them that opportunity to plant their roots somewhere?” Mike said.

Daigle said he questions the province’s reasoning because renters can’t afford to be choosy in a market with historically low rental vacancies.

He said Mike and his son are welcome in his home whether they can pay him rent or not.

“I told them, ‘I want you to know I don’t care what hiccups come up. This is your home even if you can’t pay even if something comes up. You live here.’”

Both Daigle and Mike live with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Daigle said living with Mike and his son has been “a blessing”.

Daigle said his mental health problems have made it hard for him to do upkeep around the property, and Mike stepped in to help him by doing yardwork, cooking and cleaning.

“(Mike) looked at me when he first moved in and said please do not tell me not to clean because I need to stay active,” Daigle said.

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“My whole house is clean…first night in we picked up some steak and mashed potatoes and I had a home-cooked meal for the first time in two years,”

He said the living arrangement has been mutually beneficial.

“Mike and his son have just been awesome,” he said.

&copy 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.



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