How a man living in a shed found temporary shelter
CAMBRIDGE -- Robert O’Shaughnessy checked into his motel room around 8 p.m. on Friday night and just missed the big snowstorm.
“I slept like a baby,” he said. “It was a nice sleep.”
O’Shaughnessy had been living in his friend’s shed for the past six weeks because he said staying at a shelter would jeopardize his 17 months of sobriety.
“There are drugs everywhere,” he said. “People talking about drugs, people doing drugs, it’s crazy.”
CTV Kitchener reported on Thursday that O’Shaughnessy was asked to leave the shed by Friday morning, as it violated a zoning bylaw due to health and safety standards.
The city of Cambridge says this was only looked into after a complaint by the community and at the request of the property owner.
Homelessness advocate Connie Cody says she made 150 phone calls between Thursday and Friday night. She adds that it was full day’s work that helped secure him the room and funding for five days.
“There was a lot of difficulty navigating through the system,” she said. “We had a lot of people helping Rob on this. There would be no way someone like Rob, on his own, could ever possibly navigate through that.”
Cody points out they needed to find a place that wouldn’t put him in an environment where there were people actively consuming drugs, but had to find a spot that would allow his companion dog Duke to join him too.
“By dinner time [on Friday] we still didn’t have anything suitable for him that would take him and his companion,” she said. “His companion is something he really needs for his own comfort and support.”
Cody adds that they had a volunteer who took the dog for a few hours while they looked for and eventually found shelter.
O’Shaughnessy says it wasn’t just his living conditions that changed during the time it took to find him to stay.
“My son has tried to get a hold of me and I haven’t talked to him in over a year,” he said. “Two of my old time friends have seen me, offered me a place to stay, stuff like that.”
The non-profit organization Bridges will be covering the bill for the motel he and Duke are staying at. The City of Cambridge is also actively looking for a place for him to stay.
O’Shaughnessy adds that he wishes the same effort that was put in for him would be given to those he knows still on the streets.
“If the whole community did this there’d be no homelessness,” he said.
He plans to use the next few days to reconnect with his family as well as help Bridges find him a permanent housing solution.