Ontario couple living in minivan for 3 years pleads for help
An Ontario couple in its late 50s is pleading for help after spending the last three-and-a-half years living in a minivan.
Jerry Power, 59, and Sandra Graham, 57, said they were evicted from their apartment in Cambridge, Ont. and had no other choice but to move into their grey Nissan Quest minivan.
“We have missed all Christmases, birthdays, and every other occasion because we have been living in our van,” Power told CTV Kitchener on Thursday.
The eviction followed a lengthy battle with an insurance company over an injury Graham sustained when she was hit by a car while riding her bicycle. Now, both Power and Graham say they’re unable to find employment.
“People say to me ‘Well, why isn’t he working?’” Power said. “We don’t have a shower. We don’t have the amenities for me to even be able to go to work.”
Graham said they have been denied social assistance because she still collects $1,100 a month in insurance payouts stemming from her accident.
“This is crimes against humanity,” she exclaimed.
Even with the insurance payments, Graham said it’s still not enough to cover the costs of food and rent.
“The cheapest rent for a one-bedroom, even a bachelor, here is $900,” she said. “I make $553 every two weeks from this insurance company. I’m willing to pay something. I’m not looking for a handout.”
The director of housing services for the Region of Waterloo Housing Division said she’s aware of the couple’s situation and they have been placed on a waitlist.
“Our housing system has a number of challenges,” Deb Schlichter, the director of housing services, explained. “One is that we don’t have a lot of the supply of housing that we are looking for. A lot of people are looking for one-bedroom units.”
Schlichter said the department is falling short on meeting the needs of everyone on the waitlist.
Schlichter said Graham and Power were offered one temporary housing option, but they turned it down.
“It’s not for a lack of trying, but there are lots of people working on this so I’m very hopeful,” Schlichter said.
In response, the common-law couple said the housing they were offered wasn’t adequate for their needs.
“A lot of government agencies have let us down,” Graham said.
“As Canadian citizens, we shouldn’t be out here,” Power said. “We had a good life and we’re out here in this van. We should be living in a home like everyone else.”
The couple said they hope someone will hear their story and offer some assistance.
“We need someone to be able to help us. Someone from the public, or somebody, to help us and say ‘This is wrong what is happening to these people,’” Power said.
With files from CTV Kitchener