West Central Couple spends Thanksgiving packing up as they prepare to leave their home of 13 years

Fort Wayne’s NBC Producer John Wagner Reports
Published: Nov. 25, 2021 at 9:27 PM EST
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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Fort Wayne’s NBC) - Daniel Roebuck-Lafleur and his husband Justin say a series of events has led to a hectic holiday season. Each year they look forward to spending time with family and friends. This year they’re overwhelmed with cardboard boxes and medical bills, and the anxiety brought on by a notice they recently received saying they’d have to leave their home of 13 years.

Daniel and Justin Roebuck-Lafleur
Daniel and Justin Roebuck-Lafleur(Fort Wayne's NBC)

The couple lives in a small apartment with a dog, and a huge horror movie collection in a home in West Central. One night, around Halloween they say their real-life horror story began. “Daniel had a massive GI bleed and he almost died,” their friend Kendra Johnson explains.

“He was going to the bathroom and he started shouting he was really scared and dizzy,” Justin says.

“When the firemen and the EMS were trying to get me into the ambulance, I was crying and screaming because I know a can’t afford it, I know I don’t have healthcare,” Daniel remembers.

“He passed out. He went rigid his eyes dilated,” Justin says. “He wasn’t responsive.”

“It just felt like flashes, like this is do-or-die right now and I was like, okay put me in the ambulance, that’s what we gotta do,” Daniel says.

West Central couple forced to move
West Central couple forced to move(Fort Wayne's NBC)

Daniel is a Canadian immigrant with permanent residency, but as a Canadian citizen, he says he can’t get regular marketplace insurance like most of us. “Any Medicare I tried to look for was like $400 a month and when you’re living paycheck to paycheck, especially in the service industry, that’s an enormous price.” Without healthcare, Daniel’s small family was now suddenly more than $50,000 in debt. He says that’s when it seems the hits kept coming. “On Halloween, our oven just stopped working, our washing machine wouldn’t go through the spin cycle, and so we were just like okay, it’s Halloween, let’s text the landlords the next day, so we text them, put in a maintenance request,” he says. “We didn’t hear from them and then about three days later we got a notice in the mail dated the same day we put in the maintenance request that they’re not going to renew our lease, and we have 30 days to get out of our home which we’ve been living in for 13 years.”

Daniel and Justin say they hardly knew whether to laugh or cry. “I mean the fact this is all happening right before thanksgiving and Christmas is like a parody at this point, I mean come on,” Justin says.

“Getting that letter just blew me away,” Daniel says. “I couldn’t fathom all these bad things happening all at once.”

They would prefer to stay in the home, but they wish they at least wish the landlord would give them a little more time to pack up more than a decade of their lives under some pretty difficult circumstances. “I think we deserve the dignity to leave our home, our only home in a timely and reasonable manner,” Justin says.

They feel like they’re being pushed out. “It’s happening all throughout West-Central. “It’s happening in Lakeside,” Daniel says. “People are... losing their homes and it’s fast It’s not like they give you 90 days, or they give you a warning, it’s just like you’re out.”

West Central couple forced to move
West Central couple forced to move(Fort Wayne's NBC)

It’s not all doom and gloom for the couple. They’re surrounded by a generous community and good friends including Kendra Johnson. When she heard Daniel got sick, she stepped up to help. She started to post videos on TikTok about her friend’s struggle. More than half a million views later a silver lining started to appear. “People from all over the country, all over the world too, have been donating to my Venmo account, it’s really been keeping our hope up in this very desperate situation,” Daniel says.

Friends have organized a gofundme page to help the couple.

Even with several thousand dollars in donations, that date on the landlord’s letter still looms. It says they have to be out by December 1st. At this point, they’d simply like a little more time to move out.

Fort Wayne’s NBC News reached out to the landlord for comment, by phone and email, but we have not heard back.

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