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Happy ending for Thornhill couple needing accessible housing
July 13, 2015
By Simone Joseph

Ariela Shteynberg has witnessed the difference one move has made in the life of her father.

At the beginning of June, Mark Mushkin and his wife Nina moved homes within their Thornhill co-op.

Their daughter is thrilled with the impact it’s having on Mark Mushkin, 78.

“My father looks younger. He loves it,” Shteynberg said.

Mushkin suffers from diabetes, reflux disease and peripheral vascular disease and cannot walk more than 50 meters without stopping.

He lives in Thornhill’s William Lyon Mackenzie Housing Co-operative in the Bathurst Street and Clark Avenue area of Vaughan.

Two years ago, The Liberal featured a story describing his health problems and his desire to switch to more convenient housing.

In his former townhouse, he would have to climb two flights of stairs from the main floor of his home to the third floor to get to a washroom.

By the end of his stay there, the stairs had become “unbearable”, Shteynberg said.

Knowing his health could deteriorate, Mushkin and Nina had applied to their co-op eight years ago for a handicapped unit with a main-level bedroom and bathroom. They provided a doctor’s note outlining his needs.

With just three of the units at the Mullen Drive co-op designated as handicapped, they rarely become available, but in May 2013, one of the units was vacant. When the Mushkins checked in with the office, they were shocked to learn they were not on the waiting list.

The available townhouse ended up going to another resident who also was not on the list. The Mushkins fought this decision, but the board said it based its decision on the date of the residents’ doctors notes - the woman who got the unit had a doctor’s note dated two months earlier than Mushkin’s.

So today, Mark and Nina Mushkin are counting themselves lucky for getting a more appropriate townhouse for their needs.

Shteynberg calls her parents’ new townhouse “amazing” and “spacious”. It has a bathroom on the main floor and a garage large enough to store a scooter, which Mushkin may need soon.

Mushkin’s wife Nina said she is ecstatic with their new abode.

“I love it very much,” she said. “I am sure it has had a good impact on his health and he wants to live more, to continue to live. It is not easy when you are sick”.

Nina has noticed a marked difference in her husband since the move.

“My husband’s life is much easier now. We are much happier,” she said. “We were happy from first moment we came here.”

Because there are only three handicapped units, the decision was made to put the couple on the waiting list for a regular unit, since this housing would be available first.

So while Mushkin is not living in a handicapped unit, his housing is much more comfortable than the last townhouse in which he lived, his family says.

“He doesn’t have to go up and down steps,” Shteynberg said.

The home even has a little back yard, whereas their last home only had a balcony at the back. The couple is enjoying the extra room, especially, since they usually have about 15 relatives over every Shabbat.

Nina says the move has even impacted her husband’s mood.

“He is not so depressed,” Nina said. “When it is good weather, he wants to go outside and have a walk and have fun in his life. It is so spacious. There is a lot of air in this unit. You feel good energy in this place. We are happy”