MCS Safe Home: Help Send a Letter of Support for Wendy Kearney to Housing Nova Scotia

Dear readers

Please read the following with an open heart and either go to Wendy Kearley’s website and click on the following links to send a letter of support:

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(image source: Wendy’s Facebook Page)

“My name is Wendy Kearley and I hope you will help me avoid homelessness and death, by convincing the powers that be to let me remain in my safe home.

I am a life-long Nova Scotia resident, a senior citizen, and a woman who happens to be diagnosed with severe, disabling Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS).  MCS is a disability recognized by the Canadian Human Rights Commission under the umbrella term environmental sensitivities.

I moved to my New Glasgow home, a detached, single-family, subsidized house, in 1989 with my three children. Housing Nova Scotia wants to evict me from my safe and accessible home because technically, I am now “over-housed” since my children moved out, even though I am completely housebound due to it being the only place I have any control over exposures to the chemicals that harm my health.

People with MCS are adversely affected by exposures to volatile organic compounds (VOCs and chemicals found in many common products such as pesticides, perfumes, gas, car exhaust, tobacco smoke, new carpets, fragrances, paints and building materials, personal care, cleaning and laundry products, air “fresheners”, molds, even trees and other plants. The sources of harmful exposures are numerous and everywhere.

A recent study posted by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, highlights reliable biomarkers for MCS and EHS, and strongly suggests a risk of chronic neurodegenerative disease, like ALS (Lou Gehrig’s) and Huntington’s disease.

Toxic chemicals affect everyone at higher levels and in the long run, but for people with MCS, exposures to even small amounts act like poison and can cause severe and even life threatening symptoms. Exposure to certain chemicals, both natural or man-made, have caused permanent, multi-system organ damage, affecting my neurological, digestive, and respiratory systems – every part of my body! ​

My MCS symptoms are not merely inconvenient, they are severe and disabling.

My medical specialist’s instructions are to avoid the exposures that harm and disable me. I can’t leave my home, and I have to keep my windows closed at all times because of what other people do and use. I wear an industrial respirator to even answer the door. My diet consists of only 10 simple organic foods due to allergies and sensitivities.

Toxic exposures can result in the loss of my safe foods, and cause more hearing and vision loss, as well as other serious symptoms that could affect my ability to function permanently.

My medical specialists have concluded that I require a detached, two-bedroom, single-family, chemical-free house to maintain my health, not an apartment, a duplex, or a semi detached house 

As a disabled, low-income female senior citizen, to stay alive I need subsidized housing that accommodates my disability. My current house has been scent free for 10-15 years. I tolerate this environment well. My medical specialists have stated that it is best for me to stay in my current home to prevent deterioration of my health

I am being evicted from the only safe, accessible home available to me because of a bureaucratic technicality.  Eastern Mainland Housing Authority did offer two alternative units in 2014, but they were not safe or accessible and did not meet my medical or disability related needs. No other assistance has been offered.

On my own, there is no way I can afford housing that even comes close to meeting the medical needs of my condition. Creating an accessible home for someone with severe MCS takes years of work, and pre-existing dwellings cannot be made safe enough without major, time consuming, and expensive work, which cannot be undertaken by someone in my condition. 

My current home is “safe” for me.

There is no other housing available in Nova Scotia that is affordable, safe, and accessible for people with severe MCS, and which meet my medical needsThe Province of Nova Scotia needs to treat people who have disabling MCS with respect, inclusion, equality, and dignity. We need safe, accessible, affordable housing, the same as people with other disabilities do.

There are no other viable options available for me, now or anytime in the foreseeable future. Forcing me to leave here would subject me to homelessness and life threatening exposures from which I cannot recover. Extremely stressful eviction extensions and rental subsidies to move elsewhere are not useful or helpful when medically required safe, accessible,  and affordable housing does not exist.

Shouldn’t I be allowed assisted living and accessible housing, not being offered assisted dying?

Purchasing and maintaining this (or any other) home is not possible with my limited, fixed income, so until there is purpose-built, affordable and accessible housing for people with MCS, I request that I be allowed to remain in my current home with no more threats of eviction, and that I continue to receive a housing subsidy from Housing Nova Scotia.

According to Housing Nova Scotia: “Housing is more than a roof over our heads. It’s a safe haven, it means family, it means our neighbourhoods, and it’s the place we call home.  The right housing options help improve lives… We believe that at every stage of life, Nova Scotians deserve to be able to find a good home at a price they can afford. Our job is to ensure a range of programs, services and homes are available to Nova Scotians.”

To help me, please help them do the right thing and contactHousing Nova Scotia CEO Dan McDougall by email at HNSCEO@novascotia.ca or by phone at 902-424-8015.

The Hon. Joanne Bernard, Minister responsible for Housing Nova Scotia, Minister of Community Services, Minister responsible for the Disabled Persons Commission Act and Minister responsible for Advisory Council on the Status of Women, Dartmouth North, can be contacted by email at DCSMIN@novascotia.ca or by phone at 1-877-424-1177 .

Ask them to do the right thing, to allow me to live, which means until there is purpose-built, affordable and accessible housing for me (and others with MCS), that they allow me to stay in my current home with no more threats of eviction, and that I continue to receive the housing subsidy from Housing Nova Scotia.

#LetWendyStay
#LetWendyLive

Thanking you sincerely,
Wendy Kearney”

Click here to send a letter of support

Click on the image to send a letter of support for Wendy Kearney to stay in her MCS safe home.

Click on the image to send a letter of support for Wendy Kearney to stay in her MCS safe home.

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MCS safe house for Wendy. Nova Scotia Housing: Let Wendy Stay!

(image source: Wendy’s Facebook Page)

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‘Wendy’s House’ Facebook Page

The Hon. Joanne Bernard

Housing Nova Scotia

Michellina Van Loder is a Professional Writer, Journalist and Blogger. This is where she shares her tales about trail blazing her way out of the Labyrinth of Chemical Sensitivities and Mould. This is also where you will find the latest Research on related topics.

How Long Does it Take to Create a Safe Home?

Definition of ‘Safe’: 1. predic. ] protected from or not exposed to danger or risk; not likely to be harmed or lost. 2. not likely to cause or lead to harm or injury; not involving danger or risk.

To build a safe home for someone who is so sensitive to chemicals that they are having trouble living comfortably without pain can be an enormous task. I know this because I’ve just spent the last three years designing the house, testing the building materials, sourcing the workers and also the products needed to build an Eco-friendly, Allergy-free House. And, as difficult as this has been, and I am nowhere near the most sensitive of all my chemically sensitive brothers and sisters, I’ve learnt to have an exquisite understanding of the trials and tribulations encountered on this project of trying to create a safe place to live. 

The last three years of my life have been hell; so I really need this safe place. 

A place where I can walk on tiles instead of foil; a place where I can sleep without getting sick from neighbours’ chimney smoke; a place where I can be well enough to cope with going to Uni one day a week; a place where I gain enough tolerance to chemicals back that my partner doesn’t have to shower every time he comes in after being near fragrance wearers, the petrol station or in the supermarket aisle (where cleaning products’ VOCs from the cleaning aisle adhere to his clothes (and the little hair that he has)); a place where I’m not exposed to moulds, especially outdoor moulds making their way inside; but most of all I just want a place that’s safe. A place where I can just be without being sick. (Something we all deserve!)

Whether you consider yourself to have, or have been diagnosed with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) or you just have a few chemical sensitivities, you need a safe home before you can even begin to recover. Whether you or a family member have inhalant allergies, asthma or another condition impacted on via human produced chemicals or natural substances, before you can begin to recover, seriously, a safe home must be created. A study by Pamela Reed Gibson titled, ‘Perceived Treatment Efficacy for Conventional and Alternative Therapies Reported by Persons with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity‘, lists a chemical-free home (after chemical avoidance) as the top second successful treatment for people with chemical sensitivity. I’m holding on tightly to that piece of information right now.

So how long does it take to create a safe home for someone sensitive to chemicals (like, a lot of chemicals)?

Well, the answer to that is as vast and varied as the symptoms and the chemicals to which we, as individuals, try to avoid. Also, I think this is a project that may take time due to a lot of stopping and starting because it’s so important to get the living space right; it’s worth actually taking your time rather than just slapping something together that turns out to be intolerable. The answer to this question came to me in the mail not long ago. A friend whom I’d shown my house plans to wrote back to me and said: “Don’t rush into this. Take as long as you need to get it right.” This was coming from a person who has MCS; someone who has successfully built themselves a safe home; someone who was once very sick and has now experienced a huge recovery in health. Inspiring much? I’ll say!

So what type of house does a chemically sensitive person need built for them?

When I asked my specialist just exactly what type of home we needed to build for me to be able to avoid symptoms from chemical exposure within my living space, he said: “You just need a normal house built without chemicals you are reactive to.” This was a relief because I was starting to think about straw bale and mud bricks, you know, natural materials, which are fine if that’s what you want or need but I wanted to build a house that fits into the urban landscape. Something that can be resold further down the track; something that goes up in value; something that won’t leak or grow mould. Concrete, brick, stone, wood and cement sheeting is what we decided on.

Because of the testing that I’ve undergone with Allergist and Immunologist, Dr Colin Little during the last decade, I know exactly what chemicals I need to avoid: carpet, pine, VOCs, mould, woodsmoke, petrochemicals, solvents and fragrances, so I guess that’s a map I’m very grateful for.

We bought our little block of land in 2012 and, by 2014 our plans were finalised. (However, early this year, after applying for a financial loan, we had to reconfigure our plans to fit our budget–it was that or over extend ourselves.) I began testing products mid 2012, and, mostly, apart from paints, sealants, some kitchen materials and plaster top coat, all our building materials have been tested and decided upon. This would have to be the most demanding part. Here’s a selection of building materials and chemicals that have been tested and that have been deemed safe:

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Spotted gum from Woodform (however, we are using blackbut); another section of wood painted in Intergrain (prepared and posted out by Woodform; Ardex low VOC wet seal; Ardex low VOC glue, Latacrete, low VOC wet seal; Neemaboard (UPVC board to replace chipboard), possibly for our kitchen; Modakboard, for our walls and upper floor; oak for kitchen doors; stone for benchtops (which we may not use because we can’t find a suitable sealant); Zennit (Deceuninck) uPVC window frames; Victorian Ash for the staircase, from Coastal Stairs; and finally, no VOC plaster base coat by Boral.

Spotted gum from Woodform (however, we are using blackbut); another section of wood painted in Intergrain (prepared and posted out by Woodform; Ardex low VOC wet seal; Ardex low VOC glue, Latacrete, low VOC wet seal; Neemaboard (UPVC board to replace chipboard), possibly for our kitchen; Modakboard, for our walls and upper floor; oak for the kitchen doors; stone for benchtops (which we may not use because we can’t find a suitable sealant); Zennit (Deceuninck) uPVC windows; and finally, plaster base coat by Boral.

These are inside my rental property right now. I sleep near them! I’ll post about the testing process later; it will be great to compare notes with others on this important task.

Since I took that photo we’ve tested a few more products, plus there are a heap of heavier building products outside on our deck, but as you can imagine, this is a lot of testing. I’ll do an update post later on the rest of the products. The point in showing you all this is this: don’t rush into creating a safe home for yourself or someone you care about. I know it can seem to outsiders that we are being overly fussy or anxious; that perhaps we should just jump in an decide and just bloody get on with the project. But what are the consequences if we don’t get it right? Well, for me, if I don’t get it right, I won’t have anywhere to live. Once the build is finished and the loan repayments come into affect [effect/affect?] for me, then I won’t have this rental property anymore. This is incentive enough to get it right! (I do joke about having to live in my car but this is not funny at all because I get so ill even after two hours in it.)

How about you, how long do you think is a reasonable time to create a safe home? Do you have any experience in creating one? Please, do share. (I’m open to input on my choice of building products too… )

Michellina Van Loder is a Professional Writer, Journalist and Blogger. This is where she shares her tales about trail blazing her way out of the Labyrinth of Chemical Sensitivities and Mould. This is also where you will find the latest Research on related topics.

Information, products and views presented by guest bloggers @The Labyrinth are not necessarily the same as those held by this blog's author, Michellina van Loder. Reviews are my own personal opinions (unless stated otherwise); and satire is used throughout personal posts. Any health topics discussed are not to be taken as medical advice. Seek out medical attention if needed and do your own research; however, you're welcome to use mine as a start.
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