Housing prices and the homeless epidemic in Northern California are two factors that have contributed to what is being described as a “crisis” in which trailers and recreational vehicles (RVs) have become the only viable option for residents of the Bay Area.
“We’ve never seen it like this,” Tom Myers, executive director of Community Services Agency of Mountain View, told the San Jose Mercury News. “We have to be prepared that this will be the new normal for us. It’s a crisis.” According to the publication, San Francisco averages more than three complaints a day about RV communities.
“I have to do whatever I have to do,” Robert Ramirez, 54, who lives on lives on government assistance and collecting recyclable items, told the Mercury News. He has been living in his RV for six months. He is currently in San Jose but will likely be asked to move in a short amount of time.
The median cost of a two-bedroom apartment is approximately $2,500 in San Jose and $2,200 in Oakland.
RV residents, while they do not consider themselves homeless, are reportedly often included in overall homeless counts. Since 2015, the number of homeless people has jumped to nearly 40 percent.
The stretch along South 7th Street in San Jose has become an RV haven for people who cannot afford the city’s skyrocketing rents.
During her annual State of the City address last month, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf called on her constituents to open their doors and residences to the city’s homeless. “Give up that Airbnb. Fix up that back unit,” Schaff reportedly said.
In 2015, SF Weekly noted: “Although it’s illegal to inhabit a vehicle in San Francisco between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., police rarely enforce that law.”