It’s almost impossible to find someone that thinks housing is “more of a luxury good than a basic good.” Especially a homeless person. But there is a guy who thinks just that, and he’s homeless by choice. Meet Shane Dussault, a student of Philosophy at McGill University in Montreal. Since July last year, he has been living on campus, spending his nights in a sleeping bag, doing pushups in the library, showering at the gym and eating at student lounges. Contrary to expectations, his living choices haven’t been made for quick fame. Read on, and you’ll understand why Shane doesn’t have a home.
For starters, the undergrad student does have a financial problem; his parents and family do not provide him with any monetary support. So he’s pretty much on his own. He is able to pay for college and books through the system of loans that exist in Quebec, renting a living space is definitely out of the question. Of course, he could always get a job to be able to afford rent, but he simply chooses not to. Shane would rather live rent-free, than take up a job just to pay for an apartment. And given the way he is living right now, he is actually doing pretty well for himself financially, compared to many other students at McGill. “Depending on how I do the math, I could end up with zero debt at the end of university,” he says with confidence.
Photo by The McGill Daily
Living on campus hasn’t been much of a hassle for Shane. His day is just like that of any other typical student – he walks to classes and takes notes on his laptop. The rest of his day is spent at the Library, which is where he gets most of his studying done. At the end of the day, instead of going home like the others, he just returns to his sleeping spot (the exact location of which he never discloses, for safety purposes). You might think that sleeping outside in a cold place like Montreal would be nearly impossible, but he’s managed that pretty well too. In the summer he sleeps on a nearby mountain and in the winter, on campus. Starting off with a weather-proof hammock, he’s now graduated to a down sleeping bag on top of a waterproof mat.
It’s interesting to note his possessions as well. They include a bag of tools, a bag of electronics, a kettle, food supplies, and a bag of toiletries. He has only one shirt that he wears every day, a black wool sweater. He washes it in bathroom sinks and dries it out in the library. Surprisingly, the security guards on campus have been rather helpful and friendly, giving him tips on sleeping spots and places to hide his belongings during the day. Shane says that even the students at McGill have been nothing but nice to him. He once returned to his spot, and there was a small bundle of food waiting for him, along with a gift certificate to a grocery store. “I don’t tend to see the world in terms of hard divisions,” says Shane. “I think most people are tolerant and good-natured.”
It’s stories like these that let me know there’s still hope left in the world. Although he’s happy with the way things are now, Shane does plan to get a minibus someday, and then a house or an apartment where he can settle down and raise a family. I’m sure he’ll have some great stories to tell his kids.