A crowdfunding campaign is underway to buy a “tiny home” for an Abbotsford woman whose health issues – including severe, debilitating allergies – prevent her from living in regular accommodation.
The GoFundMe campaign seeks to raise $100,000 for Katie Hobson, 35, who has been diagnosed with several ailments, including severe migraines, refractory gastroparesis (a rare gastrointestinal disorder), primary immune deficiency disease, multiple chemical sensitivities and mast cell activation disorder.
Her mom Ronda, who started the fundraiser, said Katie has food and environmental sensitivities to almost everything.
“Within minutes of exposure, taking care of her basic needs can become impossible,” Ronda wrote on the GoFundMe page.
She said the most severe symptoms that Katie develops are migraines and headaches that are not treatable.
Katie graduated high school from Mennonite Educational Institute in Abbotsford, and then went on to University of the Fraser Valley and the University of B.C. She obtained her teaching degree, with a specialty in high school English.
Ronda said Katie began teaching full-time in 2013, but by the end of that year she was on permanent disability.
“The students’ perfumes, colognes, hair products, clothes soap, cigarette smoke on their clothes, etc., was like a devastating last straw,” Ronda told the Abbotsford News in an email.
She said Katie wore an industrial mask for years, until it didn’t work anymore. She also socially distanced distance herself, but now has to isolate herself entirely.
Katie’s specialists have told her the only hope they could offer is for her to stay away from her triggers and use whatever medications help mitigate and manage her symptoms.
These medications can only be administered intravenously because Katie cannot tolerate them orally, Ronda said.
At the end of March 2018, Katie developed sepsis (an extreme response to an infection), and had to vacate her rental because it sold. That location had been relatively safe for Katie because it hadn’t been painted or renovated for a few years, and the owners did not use fragrances of any kind.
Ronda said the combination of outpatient IV antibiotic treatments making her more sensitive than she had previously been and losing her home resulted in Katie becoming homeless.
“Between fragrances, mold, pesticides and new renovations ‘gassing off,’ she can’t find a place to live,” Ronda said.
Katie has been living in her 1995 Ford Ranger ever since – for the last month she has been in an area free from the general population, and has been doing well – but her family and friends would like her to have a permanent safe spot.
Ronda said there are custom builders that make “tiny homes” out of metal and glass, which would not trigger Katie’s health issues. The family would also like her to have a reliable truck with which she could tow the home.
The cost of a truck is estimated at $20,000 (plus tax) and the eight-by-16-foot cargo trailer being customized for her is about $60,000.
To date, the campaign has raised $14,000, along with a $10,000 donation match.
Ronda said the family would like to order the trailer as soon as possible because it is expected to take at least 10 weeks to build and they want Katie to have it before the colder weather sets in.
Ronda said having a reliable vehicle and a place to call home would be a “wonderful dream” for Katie and her family.
“As a mother, it would bring me such peace of mind over her physical safety,” Ronda said.