Man living in his van is homeless no more

The Guardian

Phillip Coleman has found a home.

Coleman will be moving into an apartment today, just one day after his plight of being left to spend cold nights huddled in his old van was highlighted in The Guardian.

Islanders called and e-mailed with offers of support. Some wanted to donate clothes. Others wanted to offer advice on possible affordable accommodations. One couple was even ready to open their home to him.

But many also wanted to know why the province would let a 64-year-old man fend for himself with no assistance from government.
Turns out all Coleman needed to do was ask for help.

He says he met with someone from social services Tuesday who learned of his situation through the newspaper article. That meeting led him to being set up with a one-bedroom, bachelor apartment in Charlottetown that he moves into today.

The rent of $220 per month plus lights will be covered by Social Services.
He says he can stay as long as he wants.

“It feels like a thousand pounds have been lifted off my head,’’ he said.

“I just didn’t know what to do. When you can’t read or write, it kind of makes things limited for you.’’

He had been living with his daughter in Stratford for several months but she moved out of the rental unit at the end of October, leaving Coleman unable to find a place to live. He managed to spend the odd night here and there in a few different dwellings but also found himself sprawled in his van for about nine nights.

He slept in his van again Monday night with the temperature dipping down to -13 Celsius.
“It wasn’t too bad,’’ he said.
“I started the van up a few times.’’

Now he has a warm place to stay without having to worry about turning the ignition on for heat or waking up homeless again.

Some Islanders learning of the good turn of events for Coleman has offered to help him furnish his apartment.

Nancy Smitheram of West Covehead is willing to do more than just buy him a lamp or two. Knowing that Coleman can’t read or write, she asked him Tuesday if he would like to learn how to read.

“He said ‘Yes, yes I would,’’’ said Smitheram.

“If that is something that he wants for whatever reason…what a gift to give someone. It’s never too late.’’

Smitheram said she was outraged to read of Coleman’s predicament.

“I just really got angry,’’ she said.

“In this province where people are so generous, we just can’t have people living in their van.’’