A man who lived for about two months last fall in a U-Haul storage unit — which he outfitted with furniture, appliances and electricity — said he didn't set out to make a statement about Vancouver's high housing costs.
Mike Lucignani, 32, said he was proud of his handiwork fixing up the storage space into a tiny living space, so he posted a YouTube video last week that showcased his work.
Lucignani said he knew it was against the rules to sleep in a storage unit, but he did it anyway. He moved in last fall after returning to Vancouver from a two-month trip hiking the West Coast Trail.
He'd given up his apartment before the trip and his belongings were in storage.
Lucignani said he was looking for an apartment, living in his car and kept returning to the unit to check on his things. Soon he was building shelves and even installing a sink.
"It just sort of evolved," Lucignani said. "I thought I could sleep there too. It was a bit of an experience.
"I just kept putting up more and more shelving and eventually it evolved into a space I could live in.
"The point of the video was more to show what I had done with the place and the way I was able to build it."
The YouTube video pans the small storage locker which has been outfitted with a double bed, TV, hot plate, toaster oven, sink and love seat. He paid roughly $200 per month for the storage space and another $5 for electricity.
"It was a little cozy," Lucignani said. "It's not an apartment. You have to be quiet. You're on the lookout because you're trying not be found out."
He said he knew he would be evicted if staff discovered he was sleeping there.
The YouTube video drew an immediate response from U-Haul. A spokesman said the man's locker lifestyle was illegal and he was evicted long before he posted the YouTube video last week.
"Though the video insinuates he got away with doing this, this individual was caught and immediately evicted from the facility in November, two months before the video was posted," said U-Haul spokesman Jeff Lockridge.
Lucignani, who works in IT, said he left the unit because he found an apartment in Vancouver's West End. He said U-Haul's version of events was its own "spin."
He said he was taken aback by the attention the video generated, adding that people have linked his experience to Vancouver's high housing cost.
Lucignani's intentions were less political. "I wanted to get this out there to show the building I did."