News Local – The Barrie Examiner

Sarah Blackley is six months pregnant, her baby due in June, and she's homeless in Barrie.

Blackley, 25, has food and shelter thanks to the good graces of Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre.

But other Ontario women in her predicament aren't so fortunate, and she wants to know why.

I know it seems I'm complaining, but this is something that needs to be heard, Blackley said Sunday afternoon, as sunshine poured through her bedroom window in RVH's birthing unit. I'm not the only one.

Blackley is an Etobicoke resident, a welder by trade, and has lived in Barrie for most of the last three years.

She went back to live at her childhood home in early January, but it didn't work out. Her mother was rarely home, taking care of her grandfather, the house had a bad tenant and it was unsanitary.

Blackley tried women's shelters in Etobicoke, Markham and the Barrie-area, but was told all were full.

So she returned to Barrie to stay with Justin Maitland, the father of her child, who lives at a city rooming house.

But she said there were drugs there, and it was riddled with bedbugs and fleas. She stayed there for five days, then the landlord didn't give her any choice.

He said I had to be out by the Wednesday past (March 1) or Justin would also be thrown out and homeless, she said.

Barrie's Out of the Cold program offered shelter, at St. Mary's Church for the night.

Unfortunately laying on the floor, on a thin mat, plus the added stress was no good and I woke up with severe pains in the morning, Blackly said. They got me a taxi to here.

RVH has indicated to me that legally, and thankfully, they cannot let me out again on the street, because I have an unborn child, she said. I do have nowhere to go and they have been absolutely fantastic in taking care of me and my little one. I am on bed rest, which I have definitely needed. I'm incredibly, incredibly thankful.

Maitland, 29, works part-time at Southmedic in Barrie, which manufactures medical devices. He's saving his money, applying for rental housing.

You know what position she's in and I can't have that happen, Maitland said. So I need to do what I can to get her in a house.

I really don't know what would happen if not for RVH.

And there's an added stress. Blackley is afraid of losing her child, once born, if she doesn't have a home.

I won't get to hold him. The moment he's born, he will be taken away from me, she said, referring to child authorities. Children are taken away from their mothers immediately if they do not have housing.

I'm quite desperate about getting my funds going through and trying to find a home.

Blackley said she expected to hear from Ontario Works Monday about receiving assistance, and will be speaking to RVH social workers for a game plan Tuesday.

So why go public with her situation?

Because I am not the only one. I know I'm not the only one, Blackley said. Statistics show that 50% of woman that are on the street have been pregnant or will become pregnant within the first six to eight months of living on the street. And will receive no care.

About 30% of them will give birth on the street, without any assistance of midwives.

She said there's very little affordable housing, and being pregnant just complicates matters.

So you're expected to find a bedroom, and especially being pregnant, someone isn't going to rent you a room being pregnant, and they will expect you to be out by the time that you've had the baby, Blackley said. So you are then homeless again.

It is a continual circle, throughout southern Ontario.

I guess I have to be the voice, because I can't just see myself doing this.

Maitland agreed.

It's an absolute shame. There needs to be some sort of protocol, he said. She didn't make this choice, to be homeless.

bbruton@postmedia.com

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News Local - The Barrie Examiner

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