Bonnie and Colette both had good jobs and never imagined they would be homeless. Then Colette got sick and they were illegally evicted from their apartment right before Christmas 2020.
“We pretty much lost absolutely everything we had,” said Bonnie. “All of a sudden we’re in a snow storm, [Colette’s] in a wheelchair, we have two little dogs… we had all these obstacles and that and dangerous situations we were in, that shouldn’t happen to people over 50… There’s so many doors that slammed shut.”
Colette tried to get Employment and Income Assistance (EIA), but her employer hadn’t submitted a record of employment, so “it was just deny, deny, deny,” she said. “A lot of doors were slammed in our faces. And sometimes you just want to give up cause like you get tired of ‘no, no, no.’”
Colette was in a wheelchair and Bonnie is a survivor of cancer, stroke, and being run over by a truck. Things were tough: “people don’t realize how difficult it is to find affordable housing. Both of us used to work and had great jobs at one time. Everybody’s a paycheque away from being homeless.”
They couchsurfed during the worst of the winter and in the early spring were living in a tent by the river with Frankie, their 12-year-old Pomeranian and Jacxin, their 2-year-old Chihuahua. They were in a state of constant fear of getting their things stolen and experiencing violence in their encampment. “It’s just awful out there. That’s probably the worst fear…what could happen,” said Colette.
Then they met our Director of Housing, Kirsten. “I call her my angel,” said Colette. “Every day it was a visit from her and you could see almost some light in the tunnel… That was a blessing for us. It just opened the door.” Because of our generous supporters and funders, Kirsten was able to offer them a room in a hotel while we helped them find permanent housing.
Bonnie described being at the hotel as “finally being able to sleep and knowing that you’re ok.” Colette knew then that “there was going to be something good to come out of this, and it was to get our apartment.” Walking into the apartment that our Housing Placement Worker Sara helped them secure was amazing. It felt safe.
“I’m so grateful [Sara] was there and everybody else, cause like, I didn’t even think that this was possible,” said Colette with a big smile on her face. She continued: “I have to say that, like, when you don’t have your home, you’re displaced, you’re not complete. And now we are complete… It’s like, oh we can breathe and start our life,” said Colette. “There’s this hope now. Before there really wasn’t… There should be a lot more of you guys out there.”