A front-line worker became homeless just before the pandemic hit. He's still living in his van
Published Wednesday, February 24, 2021 10:06PM EST
TORONTO -- As a full-time pharmacy technician in a busy Toronto hospital, Tim MacFarlane has been on the front lines in the fight against COVID-19.
But since February of last year, he’s also been living in his minivan after he became one of the roughly 235,000 Canadians who experience homelessness every year.
“I feel like almost like royalty in a way,” said MacFarlane. “The thing I feel most bad about, when I see someone sleeping on a sewer grate, I look at my myself and I’m like, ‘I'm lucky,’ I'm extremely lucky to have a car.”
MacFarlane detailed his experiences being homeless in a Toronto Life essay that was published in the magazine's latest issue. He moved to Toronto from upstate New York in 2007, married his wife two years after, bought a townhouse in Mississauga in 2014 and had three kids along the way.
He was living the Canadian dream. But after separating from his wife, MacFarlane couldn't keep up with the bills, causing debt to snowball.
MacFarlane isn't alone. There are countless untold stories of Toronto's hidden homeless.
"Someone working in a long-term care home during the day and staying in a shelter at night, you see all walks of life in the homeless system." said Tim Richter, president of the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness.
On top of that, the pandemic has only made it harder, with no coffee shops or libraries to warm up in.
“Between child support and things coming out of my paycheque, it's just not enough money to survive,” MacFarlane said.
“I think it says something when a front-line worker is struggling just because we have to focus so much at work. We're trying to end this pandemic.”
MacFarlane hopes he can one day get out of his car and see his kids regularly.
This goal is now within reach. A Toronto organization is working with him to find affordable housing and put a permanent roof over his head.