Two to three paychecks away from being homeless

Image Credit: Anne-Onyme from Pixabay
This is something that has been on my mind for a while now and something I just feel like writing about. Almost half of Canadians are only two to three missed paychecks away from being homeless. I am sure this is true for many other countries as well. Something I have experienced myself is wondering where the next rent is going to come from or not getting groceries because you need to put gas in the car to get to work. It’s something that has been on my mind a lot lately because we have been struggling with money a lot.

Today, my mom told me about a story in the Chronicle Herald (Halifax) which really hit home for both of us. A 63-year-old woman, a woman my own parent’s age, suffering from diabetes living in her car in a Walmart Parking lot in Dartmouth Crossing after losing her job and then her apartment due to what she called “three bad blows”. Blows that could happen to anyone, anywhere, at any time. Blows that do happen to anyone, anywhere, at any time but that if you do not have a nest egg of savings to get you through can render you homeless.

The first of which was her mother getting sick and having to move home to Nova Scotia and to Halifax to take care of her. She also ended up taking care of a special needs niece and her brother who needed palliative care while dying from cancer. Having to put her life, her job and everything on hold to take care of loved ones selflessly asking for nothing in return. She found a job at a call center, again something that hits home for me as I have been working in call center’s for most of my life and only recently left to work in a branch of a bank. She worked there for 8 years when her luck ran out.

The second blow came when she had to have three toes removed from complications of diabetes. It does not say what type of diabetes she has and honestly, it does not matter. As Leah writes about in her blog the.insulin.type all types of diabetes matter and all have the potential to cause horrific complications if not controlled, and getting and maintaining control is a constant struggle which even a little cold or infection can have a huge effect on. Anyway, this is what happened to this woman. She ended up having to have three toes removed. After coming back to work from a leave of absence, most likely too soon, but when you need money you need money, she was only able to get part-time as her hours were cut back.

Of course, her bills started piling up and she was falling behind on her rent and she was eventually kicked out. Family helped her as much as they could at their own expense, a brother-in-law allowed her to stay in a house he was selling before the new owner took occupancy but then she was forced to move again. All of this took a toll on her job as she kept having to miss work to move and she was eventually fired. She doesn’t blame the call center at all, as she says in the article she knew the rules and she didn’t comply with them, really through no fault of her own though.

Without a job and without a roof over her head she has resorted to living in her car in front of her brother-in-law’s place at first moving around every few days, after a while, she found out that Walmart allows RVs and campers to park in their parking lot and that is where she currently is. A friend took her in during Hurricane Dorian and her brother-in-law maxed out his own credit card putting her up in hotels every few nights so she could have a good sleep and a bath. An MLA also reached out to the Department of Community Services and they provided her a few days of accommodation in a motel. She is 2 years too early for Old Age Security and only has a small Canada Pension Plan (CPP) amount of $277 a month that she is getting and due to having no permanent address she does not qualify for further assistance from the Department of Community Services.

A GoFundMe campaign was started for her by a friend and co-worker but honestly, unfortunately, it takes time for funds to be raised through GoFundMe, and then once the goal is met and the money is requested it takes time for the funds to reach her. She doesn’t have time, however, as another blow has come, living in her car and not taking her shoes and socks off often, she failed to notice a blister forming on her heal that had gotten infected. Anyone who knows anything about diabetes knows how serious that can be, especially after already having three toes removed on the same foot. She is supposed to wear a special boot while healing but due to circumstances can’t because she would not be able to drive or get around as she is living in her car.

She is falling through the cracks, the weather here right now is getting cold, very cold. It is currently -3°C in Dartmouth and it feels like -8°C and it is just going to get colder. She is in an impossible situation and she is just one of many people and children in the same or similar situations in this country. It’s a big issue and is only going to get bigger. My husband and I are fortunate at the moment that we have family that has stepped in and helped us but sometimes that help can only go so far and even being in a bad position ourselves this haunts me to the core, her story and the stories of people like her.

Her story really hits home for me. Partly because she is a diabetic, partly because she is the same age as my parents which kills me the most and partly because her story shows the human side of it.  It shows me that it can happen to anyone, anytime, living anywhere and that there are people even worse off than her, here in Canada and really all over the world. My mom and I have both been really affected by reading her story and have been racking our brains all afternoon on how we can help, how we can make a difference, to the point my mom said she wished she could drive up to Dartmouth and bring her home to stay for the winter to get her off the streets and give her a chance.

While that is probably not possible or feasible, there must be something we can do. Money is tight for both my parents and us, but we just feel like there has to be something we can do. We just have no idea what. She is two and a half hours away. Maybe even just getting her story out there might help. I have no idea. All I know is it is really bugging me.


6 thoughts on “Two to three paychecks away from being homeless

  1. This is so sad and so common in society today. To become homeless today it’s enough to have a divorce or to be ill and unable to work for some time. I’m so happy that we own a house with no mortgage, if bad things would happen at least we have our house. If we were poor we wouldn’t be able to pay for heating, but at least we’d have a roof over our heads.

    1. It is so common and so sad to see. It doesn’t take much to put someone in that situation. I am glad to say that the Chronicle Herald article prompted the provincial Department of Community Services to finally step in and put her up in a hotel until Thursday and people actually started showing up with cash and cheques to help her out and actual food (she was living mostly off peanut butter crackers) and blankets and clothing. Hopefully, there will be some permanent help for her soon. I plan to follow the story as much as I can. I wish there was actually something I could do.

  2. While not in Canada I can still feel this post more intimately than I desire to. My husband lost his job a few weeks ago due to cutbacks, I have been working two full-time jobs and gong to school, and we lost connection to water utilities, of which I still have not been able to have reconnected. I’m fairly certain I won’t have my full house payment on Friday, and we haven’t been able to use the heat for a few weeks. Still, I find it hard to be bitter about it when I know there are others so much worse off than I am.
    At least I still have my home for the time being, and a car to drive. That’s better than so so many others.
    It’s very sad that we live in a society where my situation is so incredibly common that it’s not even shocking anymore. Society has steered away from loving your fellow man, money is all that matters, and being selfish is okay. It’s so disheartening, and I am so glad I have the ability to come online and meet amazing people through blogging. It was such a pleasure stopping by your blog as well.

    1. I am so sorry to hear about the issues that you and your husband are having. My husband, I have been there a few times. It seems so hopeless at the time but we always manage to figure things out and slowly get caught back up or at least the most important things. It is very sad that situations like yours and hers are so common. Sometimes I think that money doesn’t matter at all and that the love of our friends and family is all that matters, but then you need the money to take care of those loved ones and yourself so I get it. It just really sucks.

      1. Most definitely agree! I think it’s horrible that our society values money above being a decent human being, but unfortunately most have lost their care for others. Personally I feel that if you have no friendship or love, then you have nothing and all the money in the world cannot replace that.

  3. This is true for so many people here in the USA as well. Very few people have savings anymore. I have been homeless twice myself. I have my faith to get me through, and my survival skills to get back on my feet. I don’t have much family as my parents have passed away. It’s a shame. They don’t really teach how to manage money in schools and that’s something I would like to see change. Also, predatory lending practices need to come to an end. I’m not a fan of credit in general, personally. My grandparents kept their money in their mattress.

    I feel so sorry for her, and I’ve seen so many similar situations working in mental health.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *