The struggle over adjusting Jessica at home in need of help is growing

Kwestie over de woningaanpassing van Jessica Poel met de gemeente sleept voort (Rechten: RTV Drenthe / Tom Meijers)

“I am the target,” Jessica Boyle introduced herself to the audience. The case with the municipality of Coevorden over the conditioning of her home has been protracted for two years. It turns out that it has ramifications on both sides from the statement of the mayor’s college spokesperson and members of the House of Representatives: “In our district, people have almost literally fallen.”

Wheelchair friendly home

Poel has a chronic back condition, which means she spends most of the day in bed. She cannot stand, sit or walk for a long time and uses a wheelchair as best she can. Two years ago, she applied to Wmo to make her home wheelchair-friendly. An independent doctor twice advised the municipality to reject the application. Wrong, according to Boyle, who took the matter to the Municipal Objections Committee in June. He ruled in her favour, and instructed the municipality to seek advice again from another independent doctor. She decided that alterations to her home were indeed necessary.

Alternative solution: mobile home

The municipality of Coevorden offered Poel two replacement homes in September, which – with slight modification – would be suitable for her placement. According to the municipality, this resettlement solution is feasible if it is cheaper than air conditioning the existing house. Boyle could not agree to this and went to the Municipal Objections Committee a second time with her attorney.

Objections

One of the houses offered by the municipality to Boyle is located at Jeroen Boschstraat in Coevorden. According to Boyle, this is not an option in terms of distance. Sometimes she depends on her caregivers and her neighbours. Upon moving to Coevorden, this concern disappears. In addition, the house has not yet been modified.

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The other house on the same street where Boyle now lives, Mister Casastrat in Dalen. The old man’s house is convenient in terms of location, but has not yet been adapted. Furthermore, the one-person house is too small for Boyle’s situation, because her two daughters wouldn’t be able to spend the night there. Due to an error in the advisory report, the municipality was also unaware of Boyle’s two daughters living in the house.

According to the quotation prepared by the contractor, it appears that the modification of Poel’s house will cost 35,000 euros. Boyle’s lawyer says the kitchen renovation is the biggest cost, 19,000 euros. According to him, this will be the case in all homes. The municipality believes that the adaptation of alternative homes will cost three thousand euros.

Conversation without pressure

After accusations from both sides, the head of the Objections Committee, Brecht Rink, suggested holding a meeting between the two parties without the interference of the press. She says turning to the media has not helped the cause. For example, the case garnered national attention on the TV show Casa. “We see only one side of the story in the media.” Rink later returned to this statement. The media requested a response from the municipality.

Boyle notes that she wrote her story in the media, because she feels like she’s never heard of it. “I sent Alderman Brink a heartbreaking email asking if he wanted to visit me to look into my situation. He indicated he only wanted to talk to me after the procedure. I emailed all the party leaders, but no one wanted to talk to me, now that I I was right, the devotees pretend to be more holy than the Pope,” says Boyle, after which she leaves the room emotionally for a while: “I should get out of here.”

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“We are not here to bully”

Both sides do not see the added value of the exchanged talks. “We are open to bond tightening,” a college spokesperson said. “We also think it’s a bad case and I’m not here to bully.” However, the spokesperson questions whether the parties would gain anything substantial through such a conversation. Boyle’s attorney also isn’t looking forward to it: “If the transition option continues to be in the lead, this conversation is not possible.”

The Objections Committee then concluded by pledging a ruling on the case within three weeks, after which the mayor’s panel and members of the House of Representatives would issue a decision.

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