This is the moment a homeless man found out strangers had raised a staggering $17,000 (£12,400) to put a roof over his head

·5-min read

This is the moment a homeless man found out strangers had raised a staggering $17,000 (£12,400) to put a roof over his head.

The rough sleeper, Mike, 46, met Phillip Vu, 24, when Mike offered to clean his car windows.

Phillip invited the homeless man into his car for a chat and pair struck up an unlikely friendship.

Phillip recorded their car chats to share with his pals on social media.

Strangers fell in love with Mike's straight-forward attitude, and asked Phillip if they could donate money to help him out.

In a matter of days, strangers donated thousands of dollars, and at their next mealtime meet up, Phillip handed over the cash he was able to withdraw.

He then revealed the online fundraiser total - recording Mike's amazed and heartwarming reaction.

Content creator Phillip, from Newport Beach, California, who is currently on a roadtrip and living in his car himself, said: "That was probably one of the greatest experiences of my life.

"When I set off on this journey eight months ago when I left home to live out my car and make videos, years in the future my dream was to give a person who deserves it a lump sum of money and change their life.

"I never could've imagined only eight months later I would have achieved that.

"We can fix homeless in the US because a life was changed with just $17,000 - we can make a difference in these peoples lives."

Phillip himself had been living out of his car for the past eight months, after quitting his job at the bank to go travelling around the country.

He was parked in New Haven, Connecticut, USA, stopping over on a drive to New York, when Mike offered to clean his windows on January 31 2021.

It was -10 and Phillip initially turned down his request, but after seeing him wait alone for 30 minutes, he went and bought him a sandwich.

He then invited Anton into his car for them to eat together, and asked if he could film the conversation for one of his 'Daily Vlogs'.

Then he found out they had more in common than they first thought.

Phillip said: "I thought we were two sides from a different coin. 

"We both came from struggling backgrounds and at some point I decided to reconnect with my family and he didn't - we saw commonalities until that split.

"I was like living my dreams, and he told me his dream was to go travelling one day.

"He's been fending for his life and trying to support his girlfriend and I'm living out my car for leisure."

Mike told Phillip his father died when he was young, and he'd lost contact with his family.

In their TikTok videos he admitted he had been to prison a number of times. 

But after his mother died last year, decided he wanted to "make money honestly", and has been to pumping petrol or cleaning windows.

Phillip confided his dad passed away when he was young and he'd just decided to live out of his car and drive around after quitting his graduate job as a bank analyst.

Phillip said: "We have both experienced loss and we just bonded on that.

"I was talking about family, where we're from and how we both ended up in that situation."

Phillip published clips from their heart-to-heart on his TikTok and YouTube accounts a couple of days later, and overnight the videos went viral, racking up nearly two and half million views.

The vlogger said: "I never thought any of these videos would get that much traction 

"I didn't think it would be more than me helping him out, having a conversation, getting to know him.

"I just wanted to document a video of me and Mike hanging out and sharing an experience."

His fans started to ask how they could donate and help Mike, so Phillip set up a GoFundMe on February 2.

Within two days they had made $10,000, smashing the initial $1,000 target.

On February 12, Chinese New Year, Phillip presented Mike with a red envelope containing $1,000 in cash - the most he could get out at short notice - and he bursts into tears.

Mike told Phillip: "I would never thought this would happen, I ask God for just one thing, life, and he poured you into me."

Phillip pulled out his phone to show Mike the GoFundMe, which at the time had $14,000 on it - enough for Mike to get a roof over his head for an entire year.

At that moment in the video, Mike cried: "What are you doing to me?"

Phillip said: "To be honest I thought I was going to start crying.

"I was trying to hold it all together."

Phillip has enlisted financial advisors to help Mike use the money responsibly and get his life back on track.

Mike has bought clothes, food and a phone so the two can stay in touch.

Phillip said: "I honestly never foresaw any of this happening. 

"I think the reason they were so popular is that it was so normal, I spent so much time on the streets it was something very normal to me, it didn't occur to me that's not how most people interact with homeless people.

"I realise when you tag things like '#homelessness' you're dehumanising them, that they're not who they are, they're just a homeless person.

"He is such a lovely, hard-working human being and I want to humanise him."

Mike is currently getting his social security number and birth certificate, and has applied for low-income housing.