Former group home resident says he signed over cheque to Keith Charles
While dozens of residents were displaced after a fatal fire at an illegal group home last week, some are saying health care professionals are referring people to these kinds of homes.
It appears nobody is taking responsibility for these individuals, even those who were driven to these homes by health care workers, including the one where the fire struck at 1451 Oxford St. E.
In some cases, their rent was paid directly to the home manager through the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee.
When David Carriere moved into the Oxford home last summer, he believed things would be OK.
“I thought there would be actual supports for people. (Manager) Keith (Charles) promised my aunt and me that I would have help with gettting to court and places like that and that never materialized,” he says.
An organization Charles runs, People Helping People, has even more promises on its website, including group activities, crafts, cooking lessons, and movies.
The application to live in one of its homes is extensive and gives the impression that medical and social supports are on hand. There's a space for a referral agency to list goals for a resident, called a "patient" in the application.
Carriere struggles with addiction and Asperger's syndrome. His family says someone from the local Asperger's Society recommended he move to a People Helping People home.
“They should've been looking into the place….” he says.
Few did, it seems, including the South West Health Alliance, who used to list Charles' company on its website, or Regional Mental Health Care, whose team members would direct patients to Charles' homes.
Many of the residents in Charles’ care are clients of the Ontario Public Guardian and Trustee, meaning they are mentally incapable of managing their own affairs and need somebody to handle their finances.
Although the public guardian office can't choose where a person lives, it is expected to inspect the residence to make sure it’s suitable. Final approval goes to the trustee, who ultimately issues the cheque.
Carriere, however, paid rent through his Ontario Disability Support Plan cheque.
“The cheque would come to me, I’d have to sign it over to him and he'd give me whatever he deemed fit,” he says.
After a few weeks, Carriere became so depressed that he tried to commit suicide.
He ended up moving to his aunt’s home.
He knows other tenants, even those under public guardianship, continue to live in illegal and unsafe group homes.
The Ministry of the Attorney General, which runs OPGT, did not return e-mails or phone calls.