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Couple lends trailer to homeless family

Christine Grimard
Northern News Services
Published Friday, August 24, 2007

YELLOWKNIFE - A mother and her six children living at Fred Henne Park are a little more comfortable this week after a couple loaned them a camper-trailer to replace the canvas tent they were living in while waiting for social housing.

NNSL Photo/Graphic

A Yellowknife couple has loaned Eileen Koe a camper-trailer after learning she was living in a canvas tent at Fred Henne Park while waiting for social housing. Pictured are five of Koe's six children, from top Kyle Koe, 12, Tanya Koe, 10, Jaydean Koe, 9, Nicole Koe, 7, and Cloe Koe-Allen, 3. - Christine Grimard/NNSL photo

Shelley Cunningham and her husband Alan decided to offer the trailer after reading about Eileen Koe's predicament in the Aug. 17 issue of Yellowknifer.

"I think it's just a sad situation for any parent with six children without a roof over their heads," said Shelley, herself a mother of two. "The thought of them waking up in the morning and sitting at a cold picnic table."

Koe has been living with her six children at Fred Henne Park since Aug. 10, after she was told by the Yellowknife Housing Authority she couldn't stay in Dettah while waiting for housing in Yellowknife.

After reading the newspaper, Shelley talked with her husband about helping them out. Alan brought the camper-trailer out Saturday morning, and has been periodically checking up on Koe, keeping the trailer up and running.

"Having the trailer has been a life saver," said Koe. "They are really nice people to do this for us."

While the Cunninghams are glad they were able to help Koe out temporarily, they know what Koe really needs is a home.

"It's quite a bit better than they had, but it's no permanent solution," said Alan.

Koe said she is very appreciative for the help she's received, including a visit from Arlene Hache from the Centre for Northern Families, who has been helping Koe make appointments with the housing authority and social services.

As Koe waits, she's happy to have some kind of shelter for her children.

"It's keeping the kids warm, they're sleeping good at night," said Koe. "It's better than sleeping in a tent."

Thanks to the camper-trailer, Koe and her family now have beds, a bathroom, shower and a kitchen.

But while Koe and her children are thankful for the trailer, she says each night grows colder as she and her children wait for housing.

"They keep asking me when we're going to get a place," said Koe. "I think we'll have to wait for a while. Winter's coming around the corner, it's getting chiller. This is no place for them."