Mother living in van with 4 kids gets temporary housing, $100,000 in donations

Jamie Coleman is a medical assistant who did what she could to keep her family together.


A mother living in a van with her four kids was struggling to find resources before the bitter cold set in.

Amazingly, the community stepped up and changed this family's life forever.


Homeless advocate organization Maslow's Army was working to find Jamie Coleman temporary housing when sister station WLWT was introduced to the mother of four. At first, hesitant to share her situation, she decided to go through with the interview as a chance to help her children.

Her vulnerability struck a chord with mothers and folks all across the city looking to make a direct difference for this family.

"As long as I was with them, it didn't matter," Coleman said.

Coleman made the best of a last-ditch effort to keep her family together through tough times after she said she left a domestic violence situation.

Her rapid rehousing program ended after a year and that's when she started living in a minivan with her four kids, all while balancing 12-hour shifts as a medical assistant.

But she made the best of it.

"We played a game like 'Sorry' and if you know that game it is like a revolving door. It never ends," Coleman said.

It's the way many folks who experience homelessness can feel when you have nowhere to go.

After sharing Coleman's story looking to get resources for a warmer living situation, viewers of WLWT started reaching out from every direction.

"It's just tears of joy," Coleman said, "tears of no struggling no more."

Coleman's life was turned around.

"I've been having people reach out to me from everywhere and it's just amazing that people actually care," Coleman said.

Maslow's Army
Mother living in van with 4 kids gets temporary housing, $100,000 in donations

Within hours, the Salvation Army placed Coleman and her family in temporary housing and she was connected with Women Helping Women and the YWCA for survivors of domestic violence.

Coleman received a call from the place where she leases her vehicle, Auto Express of Hamilton, which said they watched WLWT's story and paid off her car.

Then, the donations started rolling in. Thousands of folks have donated almost $100,000 for Coleman and her family.

She began writing the names of every person who donated to her family but couldn't keep up.

"It was a lady who sent me $5.28 and it was like, I know she didn't have it but she had it for us. And that right there made me feel like it's still life out there," Coleman said.

Coleman looks to get into a permanent home to create stability for her kids as soon as possible.

"My son told me, 'I don't know someone as brave as you.' And when he told me that, I lifted my head up higher and I didn't look down since," Coleman said.

The first thing she did with the money donated to her family is open a bank account.

And then she went to Walmart and bought her kids jackets and much-needed clothing and is setting aside a fund for each of them.

She's most excited about a job offer she's received paying $16 an hour to continue building equity for her family.