CHICAGO (CBS)–Longtime Glen Ellyn resident Jonathan Charbonneau is known fondly by locals for his reputation for putting smiles on the faces of residents who come to see him zoom up and down the street during parades.
But Charbonneau, who has special needs, found himself facing a hard dose of reality recently when his landlord in the west suburban apartment building he’s lived in for nearly three decades doubled his rent, leaving him facing the potential of homelessness.
Charbonneau’s story may have a happy ending, however, because he’s being saved by the love of longtime residents who stepped in to help.
Charbonneau said he felt “frightened” when new landlords acquired his longtime apartment building and raised his rent from $455 with utilities included to a new rate of $800, without utilities.
“It was very scary not being able to afford to pay $800 a month,” Charbonneau said.
So he turned to his friend Julie Spiller for advice. She stepped in to try to negotiate a lower rate with his landlords, but to no avail.
“Jonathan is very simple. He’s very regimented. He’s lived there almost 27 years,” Spiller said.
The next option, a GoFundMe page, has provided new hope, however.
Spiller wanted to raise enough money to cover the rent for a year, but then the donation started pouring in–very quickly.
The page has raised nearly $22,000–surpassing a goal of $4,500–and in less than two days time.
The tremendous support, Spiller says, is evidence of how much love the community feels for the man–who some only know as superman.
“People that are 29-years-old that have seen every parade he’s been in,” Spiller said. “First memory they had as a 3-year-old was him coming up and handing them something in a parade.”
Charbonneau said he was deeply grateful for the support he’s received in such a short time.
“I would like to thank them big time,” he said.