Nov 30, 2008

The Mobile Homeless

Maybe a year ago I saw a documentary about the mobile homeless, people who live out of their cars. There was a father with three kids in an RV, a middle aged woman in VW minibus, a woman who lost her job and home due to a car accident and mounting medical bills. It was scary. They were not like the usual homeless we see on the streets, they looked "normal," they had or used to have jobs, but life took a wrong turn somewhere. It reminded me how easy it is to fall through the cracks.

Due to the worsening economy the number of mobile homeless is growing. I was trying to find that documentary on the web, but instead I found a more recent ABC News item about the growing number of mobile homeless in Santa Barbara. Here is the transcript and the video.

I see the campers, vans, RVs, everywhere in the Valley, trying to be inconspicuous on the dingier side streets, semi-industrial areas, mostly staying out of the residential areas, but not too far from them. The area between Vineland and Lankershim where Phil's Diner once resided used to be one of those areas, but all the condo and commercial developments keep pushing them out.

I also found a BBC News video of tent cities. Grapes of Wrath, anyone?


Kathy H said...

I read that 7% of all people in Michigan who've had their homes foreclosed upon recently have wound up homeless. Not everyone has family or friends to take them in. This is so sad. :(

Miss Havisham said...

This problem has been on my mind lately,too, and last night KPCC The Play's The Thing episode was The Grapes of Wrath. Steinbeck is not one of my favorites.

I prefer Bukowski to Steinbeck. Downtown L.A. is more real to me than Cannery Row in beautiful Monterey. Who will tell the story of these people in their campers off Lankershim, off of off ramp sides of side streets, Toadberry?

altadenahiker said...

Meanwhile, all these foreclosed houses go empty. I don't understand how this bailout works at all. Do these people lose their houses even though the government pays off the mortgage?

Vanda said...

The government doesn't pay off the mortgage, and it shouldn't. The sad truth is that most who are getting foreclosed now should have never been buying, but they should be able to go back to renting.

Anonymous said...

Grapes of Wrath is is Upton Sinclair's The Jungle (a Pasadena Adjacent author).

One of my closest friends is desperately trying to stay out of for closure. He sold two properties to buy a house within a descent school district. Yet despite putting in over a $100 thousand dollars they're still saddled with an upside down mortgage. The jobs in the arts have dried up (those include positions such as grant writers). All this on top of taking care of elderly parents. ugh!
I see so much of this. I have a park down the block. I watched a homeless man and his van move in about three years ago. Eventually the city confiscated his van (non payment of registration). He keeps a plastic chair and bundle hidden behind the dumpster of the Hi Ho market.

Vanda said...

A lot of people made some bad mistakes the last few years. For me the lesson from all of this is about common wisdom and common sense: One is not wise and the other one is not common.

Another troubling part is that of the thousands of economists working and teaching in this country there were only a dozen who saw this coming. Doesn't look good for the profession. On the other hand, Paul Krugman is like a cuter, cuddlier George Cloony.

Petrea said...

I read an article about parking lots in Santa Barbara that are reserved for the mobile homeless at certain times of the day. One is especially for women. Women who look a lot like me. Us.

Vanda said...

Yes, that's one of the scary parts, Petrea.