Langley resident David Cornelius has been living in his van since 2015. He says he is seeing an increasing number of people who are living in vehicles, as many as three dozen a night in Langley alone.

Langley resident still the man in the van

Finding affordable accommodation all but impossible, frustrated subject of Times 2015 profile says

When Langley resident David Cornelius started living in his van, he thought of it as a temporary measure.

The decision was forced by a combination of a landlord who decided to renovate, high rental rates, a lack of landlords willing to allow a pet, and health issues that limited his ability to work as a stone mason.

In November of 2015, after six months on the road, Cornelius was subject of a Times profile that called him “The Man in The Van” and described his determination to find a home.

A year later, Cornelius is still living out of the well-organized travel van that he shares with his dog, Yuki, a Siberian husky.

And he has noticed a disturbing increase in the number of people living in vehicles over the last six months.

“There’s about 50 per cent more,” Cornelius told The Times.

“I would call it a traffic jam.”

Based on his own observations, he estimates that any given night in the Langleys, there are about three dozen vehicles in various parking lots, all occupied by people who have no homes.

“I saw a young couple the other day in a van, packed to the nines,” he said.

“I’ve seen five kids in a van in North Vancouver. Not one day goes by that someone doesn’t ask me if I want to sell my van because they want to live in it.”

He said he is having trouble working because his diabetes is getting worse.

Cornelius said he gets $220 a month in social assistance, which is not enough to survive on.

“I call it misery money” he said.

He’s been to food banks, but the most they can provide is enough for two days.

“I’m a (former) foster kid” he said.

“I don’t have a mommy or daddy or relatives to get a hand out.”

He can’t afford running maintenance on his van, which worries him.

“I thought, the sick and poor we take care of in Canada,” he said.

“There is no (safety) net.”

Fraser Holland, the program manager of Stepping Stone Community Services Society in Langley, said the number of homeless people in vehicles has gone up, and likely by the amount cited by Cornelius, but it is hard to calculate the exact number.

“We don’t get a lot of people in vans who come looking for services,” Holland said.

He added it can be hard for homeless outreach workers to to tell if someone is living in a vehicle.

“If they keep their stuff in the trunk, we have no idea they’re living in their car.”

Holland said the overall number of homeless people is rising

“The numbers do keep increasing,” he said.

“The complexity of the issues keeps increasing. It’s just getting more desperate with the weather changing.”

Roughly one in three homeless people in the U.S. live in vehicles, according to a Seattle University study of “car campers,” “mobile homeless” and “vehicle residents.”

In Canada, the proportion is believed to be smaller, about one in 10.

Just Posted

UPDATE: Strong showing by Langley Selects at 10-day tournament

Twelve teams competed in round-robin series

VIDEO: Langley hospital history recovered

After 16 years in storage, LMH memorial plaques added to museum in time for 70th anniversary party

Heat warning issued for Metro Vancouver

Inland areas expect to hit at least 26 degrees for daytime highs

VIDEO: Erikson’s Daylily Gardens and Perennials holds annual open house

Pam and Tom Erikson have 17th annual charitable fundraiser at their private Langley garden

Cloverdale horse barn goes up in flames

Fire crews work for hours to extinguish blaze on 184th Street

REPLAY: B.C.’s best video this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

Short trip to car-free Sidney Spit offers camping, beaches, hikes

Sidney Spit is part of B.C.’s Gulf Islands National Park Reserve, a protected marine ecosystem

Riptide, CVUSC paved the way for varsity soccer players

Chloe Gummer has become a leader at VIU

B.C. woman disappointed after family asked for ID at townhouse complex pool

Surrey woman says it’s not the first time she has experienced racial profiling at the complex

Park pipeline protesters say arrest is a ‘declaration of war’

Group behind North Thompson River Provincial Park occupation protest says arrest is ‘declaration of war’

A day of deals at Amazon, and at its rivals

Online retail giant extends annual ‘Prime Day’ promotion to 36 hours

Alert B.C. campers raise alarm and avert potential propane disaster

Salmon Arm camper lodges a complaint with Technical Safety BC after motorhome tank is over-filled.

5 to start your day

Heat warning issued, man climbs a crane, a dog-sprinting event, and more

Non-union construction industry fears exclusion in B.C.

Premier John Horgan announces new Crown corporation for public works

Most Read