Homeless man feels he ‘fell through the cracks’

A Red Deer man says he is frustrated by the lack of help given to his homeless plight after the City of Red Deer bought the now-demolished Arlington Inn where he and 23 others lived.

Evicted from the Arlington earlier this year

A Red Deer man says he is frustrated by the lack of help given to his homeless plight after the City of Red Deer bought the now-demolished Arlington Inn where he and 23 others lived.

Glen Lewis said he has been unable to get local and provincial support following the city’s purchase of the inn last fall.

The city and community agencies later helped orchestrate the relocation of the low-income tenants prior to the building’s demolition at 49th Street and 51st Avenue last May.

The unemployed 45-year-old relies on friends and family for money, food and a place to sleep. His main home is a tent near a city campground.

“I’d like to think I just fell through the cracks,” said Lewis. “But there are probably a few other guys, the same thing happened to them.”

After the building was bought, the city began collaborating with the Canadian Mental Health Association and other community agencies to help the tenants find new homes. Outreach workers worked with tenants on accessing the provincial homelessness eviction fund.

Rent subsidies were also sought for residents.

Lewis said he may have slipped through the cracks because he moved out shortly after the inn was sold. Tenants were required to move by the end of January, but he had left a month before.

A woman offered him a temporary place to live, with the expectation he would receive government assistance. He said he was referred to social services from a city representative.

“She knew I was waiting to hear from social services and that I should have money coming in to pay rent.”

He figures he was denied money through the eviction fund because he was fired from his liquor store job, and that he had some savings in the bank.

Sally Stuike, spokeswoman with Alberta Employment and Immigration, said anyone who applies for emergency benefits would be expected to use any excess savings before becoming eligible.

“They can’t have any more liquid assets than the amount of core benefits they would get a month,” Stuike said.

Lewis left the woman’s house in May. He continues to look for a job but said he can’t even find a dishwasher job.

He’s wondered whether the city has followed up with the Arlington tenants to find out how they are doing. He doesn’t think they have.

“Living in the Arlington was fairly reasonable and we were all like family there,” said Lewis.

Lewis said he’s phoned local and provincial politicians and anyone else who could help him.

“I’ve tried to get a hold of every councillor and tried to get a meeting with the mayor for five minutes and it’s almost impossible,” he said.

But he said he’s been ignored.

“I’m treated like one person doesn’t matter in the scheme of things,” Lewis said. “I’m basically just trying to survive and I know there are people who are worse off than me.”

Mayor Morris Flewwelling said he was unaware Lewis was trying to reach him or any member of council.

“I can’t believe he’s not being serviced, so I would like to see that being investigated,” Flewwelling said.

He said the city’s community outreach team and the network of agencies in the community is capable of handling Lewis’s needs.

On Monday, city council endorsed a new five-year community plan to end homelessness which includes adding 500 new affordable housing units by 2015.

The representative with the Canadian Mental Health Association who worked on the Arlington relocation was unavailable. Association program manager Joyce Neiman welcomed Lewis to contact their office for assistance.

ltester@bprda.wpengine.com

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