Kamloops residents raise money to give well-known homeless man a place to stay, for now

·2 min read

People in Kamloops, B.C., are trying to find a long-term place to live for a 66-year-old homeless man who was recently quarantined for two weeks after testing positive for COVID-19.

On Tuesday, Melissa Constantine called upon fellow residents of the southern Interior city to chip in money to rent a hotel room or a basement suite downtown for Michael O'Shea to get out of the bone-chilling weather.

Constantine, 25, has known O'Shea for six years says she sees him as a father figure.

"He's always listened to people and he's a very giving, loving, important member of our community," she said to Sarah Penton, the host of CBC's Radio West.

"It would be a great time to help him, during the hard time of actually getting COVID, stay somewhere warm with the cold snap that's happening," she said.

Much to her surprise, a local resident came forward the same day to offer O'Shea a place to live for free for two months.

Submitted by Melissa Constantine
Submitted by Melissa Constantine

Constantine accompanied O'Shea to open a bank account Thursday to deposit the $1,000 in donations she received from the community, which she had designated for food and clothing.

But after receiving a torrent of messages from community members, she decided to continue accepting donations in the hope of renting longer-term accommodation.

O'Shea is well known to the City of Kamloops. In a council meeting in September 2017, Coun. Arjun Singh mentioned him as a "very beloved person on our streets."

Residents who had not seen O'Shea for several days reported him missing to the Kamloops RCMP Tuesday. It turns out he was quarantined in a motel after he went to a hospital because he thought he had pneumonia and tested positive for COVID-19.

Constantine located him the same day by calling the cellphone she had given him.

O'Shea says he is overwhelmed by the community support to find him a stable home.

"I'm not the only one that's out there that needs help and [they] choose me," he said. "It [is] humbling to know that that many people really care."

Kamloops has 201 people experiencing homelessness, according to the city's latest report in 2018.

Tap the link below to hear Melissa Constantine and Michael O'Shea on Radio West: