A Warwick man has parked his car at an intersection on Bald Hill Road in hopes of gaining donations from drivers to buy back the house that he was evicted from last year.
Sometimes drivers honk to get homeless father Bill Roche’s attention, other times people pull into the plaza at East Avenue and Bald Hill Road to hear his story and contribute to his goal. He said he promised his 17-year-old son and his 13-year-old daughter that he would do whatever he could to get the house that they grew up in back.
Roche and his two kids have been living out of his sedan since the beginning of the month. Prior to that, the family was separated for eight months living with different family members. He said the day they were evicted in August 2013, Roche was diagnosed with kidney cancer. He says he has since been denied disability benefits on four occasions. His current application is in the appeals court process.
Since last Friday, “The feedback has been slow but good, I’ve had more toots than donations,” said Roche.
During the day, Roche is parked in a plaza in front of Live To Grow, an indoor gardening store, where the owner has allowed him to occupy a parking spot facing the busy road until Sunday, Father’s Day. He said it’s too dangerous to stay overnight parked there as a target with money, so often he just drives throughout the night to kill time.
“Every day is a long day, and the nights are even longer,” said Roche.
In the past they have spent the night in the Kent County Hospital parking lot until cars pull up next to them and his kids become frightened.
Roche said the police visited him Tuesday morning with concerns about traffic flow.
“If you don’t want to help, just drive by,” said Roche. “I’m not chasing anybody down.”
The idea to attach signs to his cars and stay parked for a week came to him when he was sitting at the beach. He said it was time to do something for his kids who he made a promise to.
“A shelter is not their home. This car is not their home,” said Roche. “I will keep this promise until it kills me.”
Roche said the kids’ spirits aren’t great, but they entertain themselves often on their phones. When he was visited on Monday morning, the kids were at school. He said he spoke with faculty at his daughter’s school to explain his situation and said they supported his actions.
Food stamps and cash assistance provided by the state allows for him and his kids to survive, he said.
The Beacon learned from an unidentified source about the story, and broadcast media have picked up the story over the weekend.
Roche said he worked at the Westin Hotel as a maintenance engineer and at Brown University as the supervisor of dining services. His health has kept him from applying to any jobs involving physical work. Roche said he also suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder after his wife’s death in 2011.
It will take around $300,000 to buy back Roche’s old home, but he said he is determined.
“I’m here because I’ll do anything for my kids,” said Roche. “I’m not ashamed.”
In the near future he said he wishes to start a fund at a local bank where people can donate money to his promise.