Family sees man, presumed dead, on newscast
A man whose family believed he was dead has reunited with his siblings after he was featured in a news story on solutions to homelessness.
Danny MacKinnon spent five years living on the streets in Vancouver as he battled depression and an addiction to alcohol. He had fallen out of touch with his siblings, who assumed that years of hard living had claimed his life.
But when Danny's brother Tim, who lives in Grand Digue, N.B., watched a story broadcast nationally from CTV British Columbia last week about supportive housing as a way to get homeless off the streets, he saw his brother. Danny MacKinnon was featured prominently in the story, talking about how the initiative helped him begin the process of turning his life around.
"I was very concerned with his whereabouts. We hadn't heard from him in years," Tim MacKinnon told CTV Atlantic.
"I was very relieved to see him on television, knowing that there he is looking healthy, speaking well, (with a) nice place to live."
Danny, 54, is living in a room at the Bosman Hotel in downtown Vancouver, a facility opened by the Mental Health Commission of Canada and the PHS Community Services Society. The facility is part of a study testing the "Housing First" approach to battling homelessness, which is based on the concept that housing is a human right.
Residents don't have to be clean or committed to entering rehab in order to move in, but they are offered on-site medical care and support for their addictions and mental illness. MacKinnon's progress, along with that of the other residents, will be monitored for two years and compared to people without housing or other support.
"I'm constantly smiling now," Danny MacKinnon told CTV B.C. "Before I was a really grumpy old guy." Danny said he has plans to go back to school.
After watching the story, Tim MacKinnon called his sister in Sudbury, Ont.
"He said, ‘Lynn, your brother's around, he's alive,'" Lynn Vaillancour told CTV Atlantic. "And I went, ‘Oh, my god.'"
Lynn and Danny are planning to visit one another soon. But in the meantime, the two spoke via telephone for the first time in years.
"I know I've been a little remiss in my telephoning you," Danny told her.
"I know, I missed it," Lynn replied. "You got me worried. I was worried for a very long time."
With reports from CTV British Columbia's Mi-Jung Lee and CTV Atlantic's Kelland Sundahl