“From Full-Time Employment to Sleeping in Her Car: An Ontario Woman’s Struggle with Homelessness”

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While this woman has a decent job, she's been unable to find a place to live after a flood left her without an apartment. She says that's in part due to her credit score because she prioritized paying rent over paying credit card bills during the lean times. (Andrew Lupton/CBC)

An Ontario woman, working full-time in retail marketing, finds herself facing the harsh reality of homelessness, sleeping in her car despite her steady job. This distressing situation highlights the growing issue of housing insecurity in Canada, even among the employed.

The Onset of Homelessness

According to CBC News, the woman, 45, has been living in her car since August after a historic rainstorm flooded her basement suite in Glencoe, Ont. Compelled to vacate to allow for repairs, she has since struggled to find affordable housing, hindered by a poor credit score despite her full-time employment.

The woman now sleeps in the back of her vehicle with a wool blanket and pillow. She says living in her car is becoming more difficult as the days grow shorter and the nights colder. (Andrew Lupton/CBC)

Living in Her Car: A Daily Struggle for Safety and Warmth

She narrated her story from a parking lot near London, Ont., where she often spends her nights. Seeking safety, she opts to sleep in bank parking lots, citing their surveillance cameras as a source of security. Her car, equipped with a wool blanket for warmth and homemade cardboard window blinds for privacy, has become her temporary home. The woman also mentioned relying on the goodwill of businesses like Tim Hortons for basic amenities like Wi-Fi access.

The approach of winter has further exacerbated her difficulties. She shared an alarming incident with CBC News: “I had a cup of ice in my vehicle, I went to bed and the next morning, it was still a cup of ice.”

A Full-Time Job but Not Enough to Secure Housing

Remarkably, she has maintained her job throughout this ordeal, traveling across southwestern Ontario for work. Earning just under $20 an hour, she faces the challenge of high living costs on a wage slightly above the provincial minimum. Despite her efforts, including acquiring a letter of reference from her past landlord, her financial history remains a significant barrier in securing a new residence.

After meeting with provincial and territorial partners, Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Alberta Premier Danielle Smith both say housing is a top priority for collaboration with the federal government.

A Glimmer of Hope

There is, however, a glimmer of hope. The woman plans to move in with her son and his partner in a London apartment starting December 1. This arrangement, meant to last a year, offers her a respite and a chance to continue her search for a permanent home.

A Plea for Empathy

Her experience sheds light on the complexities of homelessness. She urges the public to empathize with those in similar situations, challenging common assumptions about the unhoused. “Anyone can be homeless overnight, and that’s what happened to me,” she told CBC News, her story a poignant reminder of the precarious nature of housing security in today’s society.