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Donations help homeless man repair broken-down car he slept in for months

An online fundraiser for an Ottawa man who has been living in his broken-down car has raised an amount of money its beneficiary is calling overwhelming.

Former peer support worker among growing number still unable to find shelter as winter nears

Leigh Adamson, left, organized the online fundraiser that is paying for the repairs to the car Claude Lurette, right, had been living in on the side of Hemlock Road. Lurette holds Greta, a stuffed animal he recently received from a young girl.

An Ottawa man who has been living in his broken-down car says the amount of money raised for him in an online fundraiser is overwhelming.

Claude Lurette, a former housing and peer support worker, has been living in his car since he received an eviction notice nearly eight months ago. He moved out of his Ottawa Community Housing unit and into his Mazda 3.

The car, which had been stuck at the side of Hemlock Road after the ball axle of the passenger-side front wheel broke, is now being repaired.

A GoFundMe campaign launched by a Manor Park resident who met Lurette while walking her dog has raised nearly $6,800.

"I've always known that Ottawa's been a very kind and generous city, but I'm still shocked by how much is being pointed toward me," Lurette said.

"Why me? There's a lot of more people that are more deserving. There's a lot of people that need a lot more help than I do."

Lurette said he's received emails, phone calls and even had people stopping on the street to offer support. He has also been offered an affordable apartment in the neighbourhood that he plans to visit this weekend.

Leigh Adamson, a social worker who lives in Manor Park and started the GoFundMe, said Lurette's story has connected with older people struggling with the rising cost of living.

"Claude's story hits home because the way the world is going right now, I think a lot of people can relate that we're one paycheque away from living on the street," Adamson said.

"I'm hoping that people are understanding that we as humans need to take care of each other."

Adamson said she was moved to act when Lurette said the RCMP told him he had to move his car by Thursday or they would tow it themselves. His two passenger-side tires were resting on National Capital Commission (NCC) property, he was allegedly told.

"The winter was coming and we know how harsh winter is here. There was a fear he was going to be left there and that he may lose his personal belongings," Adamson said.

WATCH | Thanks to community support, man living in broken down car can get it fixed:

Thanks to community support, man living in broken down car can get it fixed

12 hours ago

Duration 0:57

Featured VideoClaude Lurette has been living in his car for the past eight months. But after it broke down on the side of the road, community support allowed him to rent a motel room and get his car fixed. He hopes to find a permanent home soon.

The NCC previously told CBC it hadn't made a request for Lurette's vehicle to be moved and isn't involved in the situation.

A spokesperson for the RCMP said that if the car did partially rest on NCC land, an officer may have been checking on it. They couldn't provide additional details.

Funds exceed repair costs

Lurette said his car is currently with M360 Mechanics, and while the damage is worse than he expected, it's fixable. He said the mechanics have already been offered $400 directly to help cover the $1,400 they estimated for his bill.

He's planning to go back to his GoFundMe donors to decide what he'll do with the surplus funds. He would like to donate funds to the Ottawa Humane Society and other agencies that have helped him.

"I'm going to share it and that was my intent," he said. "[I'm going to] continue my search for housing and helping people along the way as much as I can."

As for Adamson, she hopes Lurette uses some of the money for his own comfort.

"It's good for him to use some of that funding to help set up an apartment to have a little bit of money in case hard times come … and to buy himself a nice bed," Adamson said.

"A nice comfortable bed after spending almost a year sleeping in a vehicle? I think he deserves that."


Matthew Kupfer

CBC Reporter

Matthew Kupfer has been a reporter and producer at CBC News since 2012. He can be reached at matthew.kupfer@cbc.ca and on Twitter @matthewkupfer

    With files from Joseph Tunney

    Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

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