Home at last: Retired dean finds housing as Anglicans raise funds in support

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The Rev. Jonas Allooloo speaks at the Road to Warm Springs gathering in September 2017. Photo: Anglican Church of Canada

The Rev. Jonas Allooloo is homeless no more.

The former dean of St. Jude’s Cathedral in Iqaluit, Nunavut—who found himself homeless last October, two years after his retirement—has moved into a small one-bedroom apartment in the city with his wife Meena.

However, the couple’s housing hunt is far from over. Most of their possessions remain in storage, since their new apartment is too small for many items to fit inside.

“We don’t have a lot of room,” Allooloo says. “It’s sort of like a cubicle.… At least we can wait for a better place to go into.”

An outpouring of support from Anglicans followed the Journal’s reporting this winter on Allooloo’s housing situation and the housing crisis in the North (“No room in the inn,” December 2020, p. 1; “ ‘We have to help one another to survive’,” March 2021, p. 3).

“I appreciate very much their concern,” Allooloo says of Anglicans who have supported him. “We’re going to continue to look for a bigger space. For now, we’re satisfied where we are, but in the future we want to get a bigger place, enough to hold some other people.”

Even as Jonas and Meena have found housing, one of their family members has recently become homeless.

Some of the Anglicans moved by Allooloo’s plight have included members of the Church of the Holy Saviour in Waterloo, Ont. Rector’s warden Tricia Siemens recalls reading “No room at the inn,” which first detailed Allooloo’s homelessness.

“I read that and just felt really upset about it—that here’s somebody who has been a priest for over 40 years and now is kind of cut loose,” Siemens says.

With the blessing of parish council, the church’s outreach committee set up a fund to help Allooloo find housing. They hope to raise a total of $50,000, based on the cost of rent in Iqaluit. “We just thought $50,000 could help [Allooloo] with rent top-up for a considerable period of time,” Siemens says.

Parish council member Jennifer Ross points to the biblical injunction “love your neighbour” as a key factor in spurring Church of the Holy Saviour to take action.

“We felt that we could do something to help Jonas and his wife stay in Iqaluit, because that’s where their children and grandchildren are.… We would like to give them that security in their retirement of having proper and secure housing,” Ross says.

Starting in late February, the parish began including a link in its newsletter where people could donate funds to Allooloo. At the time of writing, Church of the Holy Saviour had raised $3,400, though the money must still be sent to him.

While the parish fund is primarily designed to help support Allooloo, the high cost of housing in the North means that more priests in the future may find themselves homeless upon retirement.

Siemens said housing for retired priests was historically also a problem in the diocese of Huron, which eventually established a fund to help them secure accommodations.

“I think at some point, the national church needs to step up and the people in the South need to help the priests in the North,” Siemens says.

“Thoughts and prayers are very nice,” she adds. “They’re lovely. Action is better.”

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Matt Gardner

Matt Gardner

Matt Gardner is a staff writer for the Anglican Journal. Most recently, Gardner worked as corporate communicator for the Anglican Church of Canada, a position he held since Dec. 1, 2014. He previously served as a city reporter for the Prince Albert Daily Herald. A former resident of Kingston, Ont., Gardner has a degree in English literature from Queen’s University and a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Western Ontario. He will continue to support corporate communications efforts during his time at the Journal.

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