- Hundreds of people are sleeping in parking lots in areas like Santa Barbara
- Rising cost of rent and housing has forced middle class workers to take up residence in their cars to make ends meet
- Most of those sleeping rough in cars are part of the area’s Safe Parking program
- It is run by the New Beginnings Counseling Center and aims to provide a secure area for the homeless to sleep in their vehicle
The rising cost of rent and housing in California is forcing residents into alternative accommodation with middle class workers taking up residence in their cars and RVs by the side of the road to make ends meet.
Hundreds of people, including nurses and chefs, are sleeping in parking lots in affluent areas like Santa Barbara as they make the most of the only homes they can afford.
Marva Ericson, who works as a nursing assistant, has been sleeping in her Kia for the past three months. She wakes up before dawn each day, showers at the local YMCA and dresses in her hospital scrubs to head to work.
I wake up and I say, ‘Thank you God for keeping me safe last night, and thank you for the Safe Parking program’,’ the 48-year-old told the LA Times.
Like Ericson, most of the people sleeping rough in their cars are part of the area’s Safe Parking program, which is run by the New Beginnings Counseling Center and aims to provide a secure area for the homeless to sleep in their vehicles.
The program has roughly 150 clients and 40 per cent of those are working but they just can’t afford an apartment with the rising cost of housing.
About 35 per cent of those in the program are seniors and about 30 per cent are disabled. The majority are living out of their small cars with only 25 per cent sleeping in RVs.
Ericson ended up homeless after a series of medical set backs. She suffered a number of seizures that forced her to quit her job and was eventually diagnosed with a brain tumor.
She overcame the illness while caring for her dying mother and is now working two different jobs to make ends meet. Up until three months ago, Ericson was living in apartments for $1,000-1,600 a month but became homeless when she fell behind in rent.
Kathy, 65, and Phil, 74, have been living together in their old RV after losing their condo in 2013.
‘I was always into December and making the house wonderfully warm and beautiful,’ Kathy said of the holiday season. ‘I’ve got some little lights on the ceiling of the RV and I got out my mom’s old snow globe, with a music box on it.’