Blogging Bayport Alameda

August 7, 2019

Here in my car

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:07 am

Great piece in the Guardian about homelessness and vehicle living in the Bay Area.  Because it’s easy for most of us to look at huge encampments of homeless people and scoff, but when there are faces behind those cars and tents it makes a huge difference.

And when those vehicle living children grow up to become adult policy makers, that’s when the real difference can be made.

From the piece:

“I recognized the signs,” [Vallie] Brown, now a San Francisco lawmaker, said. “When you see a van or a car with curtains up, or a towel rolled up in the window for privacy. People with their doors open, and you see a bunch of stuff in their car, or they’re airing out clothing.”

“They don’t consider themselves homeless,” she continued, adding that the line between living in a vehicle and being homeless is sometimes blurry.

All around the Bay Area, they hide in plain sight, the vehicles doubling as shelters. Some, as Brown described, are easily recognizable – an overstuffed RV with so many items strapped to the sides that the wheels appear sunken down, a van with a taped-up window, a camper so antiquated that it doesn’t seem operational. Others can pass as your neighbor’s car: a 2006 Lexus sedan in great condition, a late-model vehicle kept neat for Uber and Lyft rides.

San Francisco counted 1,794 people living out of their vehicles in 2019, a 45% increase from the last homeless count in 2017. Across the bay in Alameda county, home of Oakland, officials counted 2,817 individuals living out of vehicles – more than double the 1,259 they counted in 2017.

And for those of the “all homeless people are drug addicts who want to be on the streets” mindset:

“There are more and more people who have assets and means that are becoming homeless, which is very scary,” said Jeff Kositsky, the director of San Francisco’s Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, noting that many RVs, for example, are worth some money. “[Their owners] are clearly people with some sort of assets, as opposed to some guy curled up in a blanket sleeping in a doorway.”

Roberto Lopez, 44, falls into that category. He makes $25 an hour working construction, and manages a steady 40 hours a week. But he’s been homeless since he lost his apartment two years ago. “I thought, I can get another apartment, no problem,” he said. “But there was nothing less than $2,000.”

And this notation about the super commuters was also sad and depressing but — at least — those individuals have homes even though they’re super far away:

But in a recent survey, the department also found that 25% of people living out of their vehicles had homes elsewhere. They were what local economists call “super commuters” – individuals who drive up to hundreds of miles into the city for the work week, returning on the weekends to their homes areas where housing is more affordable.


  1. So what’s the point of this gibberish?

    Comment by Jack — August 7, 2019 @ 7:30 am

    • You are spare parts, aren’t ya, bud?

      Comment by Rod — August 7, 2019 @ 9:14 am

  2. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my ancestors who lived so simple. They owned their own land, grew their own food, fished out of their own pond, and made their own soap.

    Farm life was hard, but they created a village of mostly relatives and allied families who took turns going into town for supplies. They watched out for each other, took care of their sick, and raised each other’s children when necessary. There wasn’t much financial assistance until the social security act passed, so prior to that their survival depended upon each person contributing their skill or craft to the village.

    Some were good with their hands, some were farmers, some were loggers, some were builders, some went to school to learn and then came back to teach. Others, like my great grandfather and mother were the entrepreneurs.

    The children got up early in the morning to work on the farm, and then off to school they went to learn how to read and write. The children in the village were the future.

    During the great migration, many of them abandoned their farms and villages and moved West, where they believed that life would be easier and jobs would be plentiful. They spread out – each going their own separate ways. But by abandoning their farms, and their villages – they also abandoned their history, their community, and their main source of strength.

    I spend hours now reading and learning everything I can about them – their life, their struggles, their joys and their accomplishments. My ancestors give me inspiration, hope, strength, and a belief that if they can survive one of the worst chapters of our history, I too can survive.

    I’m so grateful that I have them to turn to when I need to, and that I can call them out by name. I’m also grateful that I’m not homeless, or hungry, or hopeless.

    And I was thinking, that perhaps it’s time to recreate the “village” by buying land where its plentiful and developing co-housing units and urban farms, and schools, and churches. We can learn alot from our ancestors and their way of life — their survival is proof.

    Comment by Karen Bey — August 7, 2019 @ 8:31 am

  3. Karen. A very touching reflection. I support your vision of recreating “the ‘village’ by buying land where it’s plentiful and developing co-housing units, urban farms, and schools and churches.” In my version of our vision the land that is plentiful is vacant and neglected public and private land in urban areas and urban farms are neatly into existing neighborhoods to create community. Schools and churches are not necessarily new, but are also revitalized institutions that are now shrinking and disappearing from our urban neighborhoods.

    Comment by William Smith — August 7, 2019 @ 9:37 am

    • Does that mean Rod can’t be shitcanned?

      Comment by Jack — August 7, 2019 @ 5:21 pm

      • You’re the expert on all things shitty. You tell us.

        Comment by Rod — August 8, 2019 @ 8:53 am

  4. They should let people park in the coliseum parking lot. I mean 80% of the time it is empty.

    Comment by michonnekatana — August 7, 2019 @ 11:00 pm

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