‘Hope No Farm’ letter disgusts letter writer

To the Expositor:

This is a letter to the editor in response to the June 20, 2012 letter written by Mr. Willard Taylor of Mindemoya titled “Mindemoya taxpayer concerned with housing options” (page 4).

Dear Mr. Taylor,

I read your letter dated June 20, 2012 with utter disgust. I felt the letter was very narrow minded and lacking a certain level of education about the Community Living Manitoulin agency and what occurs to provide everyone in the agency with acceptable living conditions and proper support. Before I begin stating my issues with your letter I will give a short background about myself in order to show why I feel my opinion on this matter can be valued.

I was born and raised in Mindemoya and went to school, both elementary and high school, with many of the people living within Community Living. I have been a part of the community for just as long as how you refer to them, “the Hope No Farm population.” I have been a part of a number of functions in the community throughout the years, working and playing right beside these individuals as equals. Most importantly, I was employed by Community Living Manitoulin and volunteered with Manitoulin Special Olympics, which allowed me to develop an even greater appreciation for all the members of our community and what everyone brings to a community such as Mindemoya.

Mr. Taylor, your issue appears to be solely about the housing situation in Mindemoya. I will give credit that there is a shortage of affordable housing for the aging population whose average age increases each year. This is not an issue that is restricted solely to just Mindemoya or Manitoulin Island, but rather a nationwide problem. In fact, housing prices are as out of reach for the elderly as they are for people my age and families are going into debt more and more each day because of inflated real estate prices, but that is an entirely different issue.

Mr. Taylor, you use the term “Hope No Farm.” I am interpreting this as a reference to the fact that the acreage the main buildings of Community Living are built upon used to be a functioning farm with machinery, crops and livestock, which the residents of Community Living, formerly Hope Farm, were actively responsible for the everyday chores on the farm. As you probably know, farming can be very dangerous, machinery has many moving parts, animals, though domesticated, are still unpredictable and many other dangers associated with farming contributed to the fact the farming aspect of Hope Farm to be discontinued. So your solution about “give them something to do” is just not feasible because of liability issues and other limitations that come with different aspects of the agency.

In the past, when an individual with developmental disabilities, whether physical or cognitive, was born, the doctors would recommend the parents put the child into an institution and many times, this happened. Over time, though, it was realized that this course of action was not appropriate and every person born in this country deserved a certain quality of life. These institutions have since closed and therefore there has been an increasing need for spaces in Community Living Agencies across the country in order to accommodate the individuals coming from institutions. Unfortunately, those in need of spaces far outnumbered the spaces available and thus created a long waiting list. The long waiting list contributed to the need for more residential housing, or those “modern expensive brick buildings at taxpayers expense” you refer to.

As far as those “uncontrolled and rowdy Hope No Farm people,” they have every right to inhabit available housing. Any sort of assistance that they receive monthly goes towards rent, groceries, utilities and their own leisure time. They do not get a free ride from the taxpayers of Mindemoya and in fact they are geared-to-income just as the seniors of Mindemoya are and have little to no disposable income for themselves to enjoy. Their family has already and continues to bear a great deal of responsibility for the people living within Community Living. It is unfair and ignorant Mr. Taylor to assume that anyone living within the Community Living Agency is living for free.

Their assistance does come from tax dollars, but not just from municipal tax dollars. If you are against these individuals living in housing and living off assistance from tax money, I encourage you to pause and think for a moment and see that the single mother trying to raise her three kids, working two jobs and still having to collect social assistance would fall under your thought process of moving out of government assisted housing and then move seniors into the home in her place.

Mr. Taylor, my time within Community Living Manitoulin was an enjoyable and enriching period of my life which allowed me to go on and accomplish the goals I set out for myself in my professional career. I developed necessary skills for my career and most importantly I developed friendships that will always be treasured.

The information in this letter is, to the best of my knowledge true and the opinion expressed is my own and shared by many.

Travis Hallett

Ahtahkakoop, SK