Help Corey and Nighty fix their van
Hello everyone and thank you for your support. This campaign was created by Corey Stafford and Joe Kinsella of Kinsella's Auto Sales in Rochester Minnesota to help our friend Corey Jacob out of some tough times. Since the campaign was started Mr. Jacob and Nighty have generously been provided with a replacement van courtesy of Troy Buhr from Southpoint motors with help from Clements, Grover Auto and other local dealers and businesses. All procedes will go to, and be given directly to Mr. Jacob and Nighty to help with any repairs his new vehichle may need to make it livable for him and his pet, and hopefully help him afford a more practical home in the near future.
Corey Jacob and his cat Nighty had a rude awakening at 1 a.m. on Good Friday, when the van that doubles as their home as well as their transportation was hit and totaled by a suspected drunken driver.
"That's my house. When I couldn't find housing for people in extreme poverty in downtown, I spent what I had in a one-time deal to buy a van to live in," said Jacob as he stood in a light drizzle on a Seventh Street Northeast sidewalk next to his 19-year-old GMC van with a wrecked back axle and destroyed wheel.
With his limited disability payments, Jacob said he can only afford monthly housing costs less than $300. His health conditions make it difficult for him to walk far and make him susceptible to extremes of heat and cold.
He purchased the van less than two weeks before Friday's crash. The hope had been for the van to last him for at least five years as he looked for affordable Section Eight housing in the downtown area. This is not the first time he has lived on Rochester's streets in a van. About 12 years ago as he was waiting to be approved for assistance for his physical and mental disabilities, he and Nighty lived in another van for three months during a cold winter.
Complicating his current woes is that the driver who struck his van has no insurance and Jacob only has basic coverage on the van. That leaves him with the problem of having a disabled vehicle on a city street and few options to repair or move it.
Understanding his situation, Rochester police gave him an extension that allowed him to until Thursday evening to tow his van off the street near the Silver Lake Pool. However, if it is still there on Friday morning, it will be impounded.
Jacob said he appreciates the special consideration and he understands that the police are doing their best to help him.
The 43-year-old man, who has has no police record, says he is determined to follow the law the best he can.
However, without a phone, little money and only a broken bicycle as transportation, organizing an affordable tow truck is challenging. The damage to the van's axle and wheels means a flat bed truck is needed to move it.
"There all kinds of stories like mine. It's like it's illegal to be homeless or poor," he said. "Rochester's often called the best place to live, especially now with DMC (Destination Medical Center.) I think places should really be judged on how they treat their most vulnerable."
Prior to his accident, Jacob had proposed a possible solution to the problem of where homeless living in vehicles can safely park after dark. While street legal vehicles can be parked in public lots during the day, it gets tricky at night.
"People in neighborhoods don't want us there. We can't be in the parks after dark. There are not a lot of places where we can park without bothering people," he said.
That's why he parked along Seventh Street Northeast to sleep. Unfortunately, that left him vulnerable to being hit by speeding cars.
"We need a 'Safe Harbor' for people living in street legal vehicle to park overnight in downtown. That puts us near the services we need and makes it easier for police to keep an eye us in one location," he said. "Then in the morning, we move on."
He realizes that rising real estate costs driven by the DMC hype will make it more and more difficult for people struggling with homelessness to be able to exist in the downtown area. There are other options for Section Eight housing in the outskirts of the city and in nearby communities, but that adds cost of travel to get to necessary services. Jacob suggested a possible solution to that problem would be for the city to provide bus passes to those who need them.
He contacted City Council member Mark Bilderback with his idea.
"It's an interesting idea. Things like this have worked in other cities," Bilderback said. "This would be something for the council to address. The difficult part would be finding a place where this would work and figuring out the best way to monitor it."
In the past, Jacob had worked with Bilderback to make a downtown intersection near the mosque safer with a traffic signal.
"People think we (the extreme poor) are just leeches, but we still contribute to society," Jacob said.
Thanks to Jeff Kiger from the Post-Bulletin for writing the story that brought this issue to our attention! http://www.postbulletin.com/news/local/it-s-like-it-s-illegal-to-be-homeless/article_5b1f2691-9e34-598c-b3b1-7543efb9544d.html