Thursday, September 21, 2023


If you live in an RV, can you still be “homeless”?

by Deanna Tolliver
What makes an “RV community”? Ten years ago, you might have said meeting fellow RVers, impromptu happy hour get-togethers with the new neighbors, maybe potlucks and outside games. Really, it seems like an RV community evolves anywhere a group of RVers share the same general space and common interests.

These days, an “RV community” is no longer comprised of one group of people. It’s no longer just the new retirees who sell their homes and take off to see America. Or the 50-somethings who take their RV out as often as they can, sometimes for months in the winter. Or even the young family who takes a break from their hectic week by going “camping” at a nearby state park on the weekends.

An RV community can now be:

— Worker “bees” moving to where the jobs are, all around the country
— Millennials living fulltime in their RVs with online jobs
— Families who have learned that an RV can be an inexpensive first home
— College students who find RV living cheaper than a dorm or apartment
— Retirees who can’t afford a “sticks n’ bricks” home
— Homeless people, still on the street, but with a roof over their heads

The group getting the most press these days is the homeless, which begs the question: If you live in an RV, are you really homeless? If people are living in structures which they regard as their “homes,” then why do we refer to them as “homeless”?

I think the fine line here is crossed when the “RVer” can’t afford to pay for electricity, water or sewer at an RV campground, or doesn’t have the means to dry camp. These are the people paying a few thousand dollars for a motorhome that has seen much better days. It’s cheaper to buy a worn-out Class C than a towable because a trailer requires a vehicle. Besides, a motorhome has a higher “stealth” factor: Cover all the windows and no one knows if you’re “home.”

A battle is being waged in many parts of the U.S. today and the battleground is your neighborhood, or one very like it. The homeless RVers must have places to park. Oftentimes a quiet neighborhood in suburbia is an enticing place. Homeowners in that neighborhood strongly disagree. There are stories of sewage being dumped curbside and garbage accumulating in yards. Often the police are called. If there is a municipal ordinance forbidding RVs on streets, the RVer will be given either a warning or a ticket or both and told to get out of the neighborhood. Many just move a few blocks away until they are told, again, to move on.

Seems straightforward enough. But when there are hundreds, if not thousands, of these homeless RVers, where do they all go? A recent headline in the Los Angeles Times said: “Faced with complaints of filth and blight, L.A. cracks down on overnight RV parking. Now, the homeless are scrambling”. (Click here for the full story.) The 2017 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count reports 4,545 “campers and RVs” on the streets that serve as makeshift homes.

Seattle has been dealing with this issue since at least 2008, when the city earmarked a $10,000 grant for a program to set up a “safe-lot” program for homeless people living in RVs and cars. The program didn’t start until 2011, and then, only one lot was available, with only ten spots. It still is the only safe-lot, and may be closed in July this year.

The idea was to get the homeless in a safe place and put on a list for affordable housing. Trouble was, only the car and van dwellers seemed interested. The homeless RVers, for the most part, just wanted a safe place to park. A recent headline in The Seattle Times reads: “Seattle still doesn’t know what to do with thousands of people living in vehicles.” RVs can park in industrial areas for up to 72 hours. Then, time to move on and find another place to park.

The Seattle City Council is looking into a proposal to fund more services for the homeless, one that would include RVs. It would cost roughly $1.15 million per year…or almost $12,000 per vehicle in the program.

Like other cities up and down the West Coast, home prices and rents are not affordable for many people. San Diego also has a homeless RVer issue. That city has tackled the problem by operating three safe-lots, with 150 sites each, but RVs are not allowed; only people living in cars, trucks, or vans are given permits to stay, and then, only until they move into affordable housing. The RVers are still on the streets. And a city ordinance bans them from parking on any public street from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m.

A spokesperson for the San Diego program said they don’t allow RVs in their safe-lots because “a different population lives in them, people generally more resistant to leaving their vehicles for housing.”

Don’t think this is only an issue on the West Coast.

In Colorado Springs, Colorado, the RV homeless are called “RV squatters.” Many have tried to take up residence in grocery store parking lots. In Longmont, the homeless in RVs are told to “move along.” So they ask, to where? No answer has been given.

Homeless RVers can no longer spend the night in Walmart parking lots in the mid-Willamette Valley, Oregon, with the threat of being towed away if they do.

At a meeting in Missoula, Montana, a Ward 4 Councilman said, “If they are living in an RV, they are one step from probably being homeless. They shouldn’t be (parked) on the street.” To which a homeless RVer replied: “Why don’t you help us find a place to park…?”

Indeed…Why don’t we find them a place to park? An empty mall parking lot. Porta-potties. Maybe a honey wagon once a week. Water hydrants to fill holding tanks. Maybe even a program offering solar panels to keep batteries charged.

I can already hear some comments: “Tell them to get a job!” “Why should I support them? I don’t have enough money either.”

Many of the RV homeless are families with children. (Click here to read one family’s story.) Some are disabled military veterans. Others have mental disabilities and are not employable.

What do YOU think? Please leave a comment.

##RVT851 ##RVDT1446


  1. We all had choices, some of us to chose to save our money for retirement and to plan ahead, to stop buying pricey coffee, spend $100 a week eating out at a nice restaurant, to buy fast food or buy a nice truck we couldn’t afford.

    I chose to learn how to prep fby installing my own solar power, to learn to live in an RV full time after my autistic brother freaked during the pandemic shutdown and kick me out of his home. I worked during the shutdown and was able to save more money, I live on $1400 a month at 67 and live on family property, and I have a car.

    I’m a survivor most of you are not, you still buy pricey coffee, fast food and stuff you can’t afford, live pay check to pay check, and pay high rent, good luck when you’re homeless, I warned you. Prep Sam

  2. The homeless leave their trash behind, are drunk, on drugs or have mental problems, they give most RVers a bad rap, it doesn’t matter where they’re moved, they’ll do it there too. I live a much better life in my RV. I had a Plan B in case I needed to move into something affordable and I did, I don’t consider myself homeless. I have a working bathroom, shower, on solar power, and water, even though I’m on SSA, I still work a part time gig job to supplement my income, I’m able to save part of my income in case I decide to get a nicer RV in the future.

    During the Covid 19 pandemic, many moved into RVs here in California after they were evicted, or just wanted a place to be away from infected family, many now work or live in RVs outside their homes.

    Those living on Section 8 here in Central California are now getting evicted after their rent is going from $500 to $1200 a month or more, save your money and have a Plan B, don’t “B” homeless. Prep Sam

  3. Using old RV’s for homeless people is a valid option to help folks at this level in our society. Recommend locations for them to park should have limits to the numbers at each location, perhaps no more than 50 at any location, otherwise the public may perceive them too intrusive. Localities could determine what level of basic services to provide with utilities and social services. Locating them close to mass transportation options and local job opportunities is important. This really is another great level to provide shelter for homeless. Appreciate you focusing on this. Successful examples need to be put forth.

  4. “Homeless” people are a complex problem with NO easy answers and definitely NO “one size fits all” answer. Some municipalities have thrown LARGE amounts of money at said problem but, I’m not aware of ANY communities where such action has provided a long term solution. Personally, I believe it is FAR more of a drug problem that it is a homeless problem. Some time ago, KOMO (an NBC affiliate in Seattle) did an hour long program highlighting this problem. It was called “Seattle is Dying” and, the program contrasted how Seattle’s “solution” was working vs the way Rhode Island addressed the issue. The bottom line was that Seattle was just sinking deeper while Rhode Island’s actions had reduced recidivism dramatically. Here’s a link to the documentary:

  5. I work with some homeless people who live in their cars. They seem to me of two types. There are those who are temporarily homeless due to job loss or medical problems and truly want to get back into a home. We have helped some get into apartments. The other type are those who are, uh, mentally challenged and will bounce between homes and being homeless. The only way to help this second group is to provide mental health services and permanent supportive housing. Some will say that we should not provide this service and pay for them to live in housing. But if we don’t, then this housing crisis will continue. As a nation, we certainly have the resources. I hope we have the political will to do this so we can reduce the crisis.

  6. This issue, to me, is a socio/political can of worms. On one hand I believe these people should take steps to improve their own situation. On the other hand, I realize that their situations may not be of their own making. I believe in the old adages, give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach him to fish and he eats for life. A hand up is better than a hand out. So, instead of just moving this segment of rv dwellers from place to place, provide those capable of working with occupational training and and a spot to park while in the program. I’m not sure how to address the segment of this population that for whatever reason are incapable of taking care of themselves.

  7. Everybody get together; gotta help one another right now. Seems this plight is not new. Help the helpless. Do for those who can’t do for themselves. Somehow manage to live your own American Dream while helping a less fortunate somebody live theirs. Does my opinion count for anything besides using up space on a page? Does yours? Not so much! Too many people today want, even expect, something for nothing. When did those who have less become entitled? Everybody is not a winner! Everyone is not equal! Doing one’s best is not always good enough! There is no single answer that will end poverty or homeless conditions for a village, county, state, or country. Do your part whomever you are and whatever your part is. Find your niche. Contribute something. Expect nothing. Become a leader. Appreciate others as well as what you have, which may be nothing more than your own time and talents. Opinions are cheap and easy to find. The way out of anything or any place takes a bit of work.

  8. I guess you have to build a community for the homeless RV’er, with water, electric, and sewage to each site. Everyone has to pay a fee based on their income. Squatters are evicted, a security officer, a small store/office/Post Office. Best on U.S. government property. Up near Seattle, a facility could be built inside the fence at Hanford.

  9. I think that it would be cheaper to set up camps in areas where the property is of little to no use. For example abandoned industrial areas, areas near railroad tracks, near dumps and recycling, and so on.

    Dumping of wastes, water, and trash removal provided to keep minimum standards and to protect the environment. It’s cheaper than dealing with the alternatives.

    Social services will be able to assist people and security can be provided.

    But it comes down to people thinking this is a waste of tax money and whether we want to help the less fortunate. Affordable housing is the issue and people say NIMBY, not in my back yard. Well, it won’t be. America has so much wealth disparity it’s time for people with obscene wealth. Why can’t the rich help the poor?

    • But, who determines what “obscene wealth” is, or who is considered “rich”. Then, who determines what constitutes being “poor”?

      This is not as easy as it may sound.

  10. There are many people who are full time RV ers I’m in a 25 foot travel trailer since 12/2016 and also full time. I thought traveling would be fun. It might be if you have to wherewithal to do so. I got a job and stay in a membership RV resort campground for 3 weeks a month, one week a month in a mobile home park 12 miles away. It is a low cost lifestyle. I would love to own another home but find at my age 66 it would be difficult to get approved for a mortgage especially since my income is so low.
    It was said that in California if you live in an RV the state considers you as homeless. I think 🤔 I’m one step above that as I have a home on wheels. Home is where I park it and I pay rent to stay in the parks. I went from $6,000 a month in expenses to less than $1,150 a month including a car payment insurance gas food laundry 🧺 and storage container rent. Loving the less stress life

  11. The IRS considers RV’s a second home. You can mortgage one and write off the payments. So they are homes. And like any home, your’s can be declared unlivable if it does not meet codes. One of those tarp covered, dilapidated squalor shacks on wheels with no running water or functioning toilets could be judged the same way a house is, and condemned

  12. Working sucks, and when you earn less than 3x local average income, you are forced to rent – which is just like burning your cash every month. Every citizen should be allotted home-ownership credits for renting so they don’t feel like they’re just a bunch of working schmucks getting scammed. If a person is unable to work for whatever reason, they should automatically be placed in a government program that houses them and helps them toward employment. Currently, as of 2019, there is no such housing-assistance-with-employment program offered at the federal or state level anywhere in the USA, but many other nations around the world have had these types of programs for decades. USA = Third World

  13. I have a job my dad passed not long ago my mom is disabled and gets SSI the rent is just to high for us to afford i wish we had a home but for now we are just trying to survive. We are not bad people just there isn’t any help when it boils down to it.

  14. We’re one of these families. Luckily we live in a part of Oregon where we’ve made a community and we get the help we need to stay warm, and we can park in forest land. But we’re just waiting on housing… thanks for bringing attention to this. We’re not all bad or resistant to housing. Who would want their children cold at night? ?

    • “Housing” sucks, in general, and “low-income housing” sucks horribly, every time. People shouldn’t be forced to choose between living in their vehicle in peaceful, natural surroundings or living in a cramped apartment in a noisy, polluted urban setting. Many who are resistant to housing are really resistant to the low-quality housing being offered (to those who can afford it – it’s still not truly affordable for most who need it). Residential construction standards are getting worse, and “low-income housing” is becoming less affordable, but government leaders seem clueless or like they just don’t care.

  15. I’ve typed this before, but – Some of us truly are just poor.
    My wife and I worked for decades, before becoming severely disabled (I worked for decades *while* severely disabled, but my condition is progressive).
    I have a small pension, and we both earned SSDI by regularly paying in over the course of our careers.

    She has MS, and requires a mild climate.

    Our apartment raised our rent by triple digits, annually, for seven years (doubling our original rent); this was unsustainable on a fixed income.

    We have been very fortunate. We were able to use Craigslist to trade my wheelchair minivan straight -across for a 30yo 23ft Class C (fully maintained, and decent-looking with its fibreglass hull).
    It is four feet longer than the minivan.

    We were additionally fortunate to find a long-term space in a “mixed” RV park (daily/weekly tourists in front, ‘permanent residents’ in back).

    We were lower-middle Class white collar workers.

    In two to three years, we will have paid off our medical debts, and be able to upgrade our rig to something from this century.

    We endure seeing people on the RV forums refer to undesirable Permanent Residents in their “unsightly” older rigs.

    We endure seeing ourselves lumped in with the mentally ill and addicted.

    Truth is, if we hadn’t found a park that was willing to overlook our older rig (it’s presentable, and maintained), *we* would be street or Walmart parking while we get this debt cleared (paying 65% of our income to it, done in 2020).

    At that point we will be fine, but – the judgment and condescension *hurts*.

    There but for a major illness go most of you.

    I was never a “deadbeat”. When my mom had a stroke, with no savings, I paid her hospital bills and rent for a few years. On a nonprofit grunt’s salary.

    I had my first paid job at nine, my first W-2 job at 14, and worked steadily and well despite several severe handicaps.

    When I lost my ability to work, my savings were quickly depleted by my COBRA payments (which were four digits and twice my rent at the time).

    All this shortly before the ACA would have allowed me guaranteed coverage, I couldn’t risk a gap due to pre-existing conditions.

    And recent medical care/history is required for disability approval.

    Finally got caught up with that debt, (during which time I married my amazing wife), and two years later her MS progressed severely (bringing intractable epilepsy to the party as well). Several hospital stays and a severe stroke later, we again had heavy debt.

    After being priced out of our 500sft apartment home of nearly a decade, we were fortunate enough to end up with our 1990 treasure of a sanctuary.

    We (neatly and considerately, leaving no trace) spent a month and a half trading every few nights between grocery stores and a friendly mechanic’s, before we found an RV park willing to make an exception to their “2000 or newer” policy. We patronized the grocery store, and the mechanic.

    We make enough to pay rent, but not first/last/security, and our credit is slowly improving due to “high debt-to-income” that we are steadily paying down.

    This park is roughly half our apartment rent, allowing us to pay the majority of our income to the debt. (Payoff date in 2020.)

    After all payments including rent, utilities and phone, we have between $140-$170 to eat on and cover any unexpected expenses each month.

    We don’t have cable or wired internet. Our cell plan is a grandfathered T-Mobile family plan split with four friends (total of seven lines, less than $25/line unlimited but slow). We don’t eat out or go to the cinema.

    We are extremely lucky to *not* be homeless. But many of you would judge us.

    We never did anything extravagant (our largest splurge before she got sick, was occasionally going to the RenFaire).

    We paid into SSDI, and claimed it when needed. I earned my pension as well, through many years of 17hr days/7-day weeks.

    Empathy to those in this thread with similar stories, and gratitude to those expressing compassion.

    To the others:
    What would you have done differently?

    • I also I’m in a similar boat or RV.. live in Canada and I’m suffering debilitating arthritis luckily I have an employer who is willing to put up with things taking me a lot longer than normal.. but I have a small dog and I am being turned away from multiple RV sites despite my truck and RV being this… 2014 Dodge Ram Cummins turbo diesel … 2009 VR1 Keystone

      • Oh my gosh! Those are relatively modern rigs. I imagine there is so much demand for the spaces that these parks can turn away everyone who does not have a really modern vehicle. Shows how the RV parks situation is changing – those lots are being bought out by condo developers – while at the same time the income gap keeps getting wider, forcing more people into older vehicles. And I’m getting so sick of seeing all these huge condo complexes lining the roads – they are really depressing to look at, especially knowing that they’re replacing beautiful, older homes, and condo owners are paying through the nose to own (or rent) what are essentially just more dumpy apartments.

  16. I just ran across this encouraging thread. It’s so long and detailed that I don’t have time to read it in its entirety. Much of what I write might have already been said and said better. But at the risk of repeating what others have said, I want to support those who are saying that the “homeless” RV’ers need the intense political support of those of us who aren’t homeless but who do own RV’s for travel and, in my case, traveling and sometimes also work. I’ve been nothing short of aghast at the almost universal response of California cities to the homeless in RVs in their midst. Go away is the short of it. They don’t want you on their streets. And that includes those of us passing through for a day or two. No overnight parking or parking restrictions based on vehicle size is almost universal now.

    My purpose in writing, besides expressing my dismay at the political cowardice of those among us who won’t confront the homeless issue, is to second those who are arguing that public RV campgrounds for which there is space in plain sight everywhere (think huge mall parking lots that are never filled and will be less and less filled as Amazon sweeps them away, think, as I’ve already read, abandoned military bases or even exurban farmland that didn’t make it). How much can it cost to level the land, put in drainage and electricity and water hookups and then community showers, laundries, and then charge some kind of minimally subsidized rent for poorer RV’ers who are trying to keep it together. Miscreants, of course, lose their privileges. Of course. And then leave the everyone else alone. The idea that this hasn’t been done already up and down California, the supposedly liberal state, strikes me as a statement about out own greed and fear of falling off the wagon, also as I’ve already said, need I repeat it, political cowardice

    • Curtis, good thought but there is whole lot more to it than what you sum up here. It costs a lot to put in hookups, showers, laundries, etc., and the homeless don’t want to be far away from services available in cities. Send them out to the farmland? How will they get back to town? These are not people who tow a vehicle behind their motorhomes. Oh, if they will form a co-op on that farmland and grow their own food, then great. But from what I have seen that just isn’t going to happen.

    • I agree, though I believe the best long-term solution would be to integrate these people into the main social order with housing and employment. Everyone complains about the high cost of programs like these, but most of these people have been paying into their government all their lives, and they deserve to have programs that prevent them from being forced to live like permanent urban campers when there is so much greed, corruption and wasteful government spending all around them. When a military-industrial project like the F-35 shows essentially zero net sum results after pouring hundreds of billions of dollars into the offshore bank accounts of just a few military-industrial CEOS…

  17. Deanna,
    Thank you so much for this detailed story. It is heartrending and all too true. Recently I did some research about the Civilian Conservation Corps. During the great depression there were millions out of work. Farmers had to walk away from their shattered lives during the Dust Bowl years, and families had to turn out their own young sons because they couldn’t afford to feed them. They became the “hobos”, jumping trains for transportation and living in camps alongside the tracks. The CCC was created as a program to put young men to work. Unfortunately women were not included in the program.

    The CCC did much more than create jobs. It helped restore mid-America’s farmlands by building canals. It trained young men in trades that they later used to support their families. It educated the workers in trade and high school classes during the evenings. It fed emaciated young men healthy meals. It developed parks all over the country with facilities we are still using today. It taught a generation the importance of land stewardship and the delight of being in nature. Supervisors, teachers and other staff received jobs in their chosen profession. Participants had to meet low income requirements and were accustomed to being poor. The CCC gave them meaningful work to do and improved their self esteem. What a great example our history gives us!

    I don’t have a solution to the nationwide issue of our growing homelessness population. During those years a person didn’t need a credit check to rent an apartment. They didn’t need a background check to get a job. I do know they were often dependent on the kindness of strangers for food and shelter and most were willing to work hard for very little money. A community for “homeless” RVers could include a food bank, physical and mental health clinic, training programs, and a temporary job agency. I don’t think of it as a handout. I think of it as an invitation to become a member of our society ………. with value and something important to offer. Healthier people with access to good nutrition and education make for better workers and happier citizens. Does anyone really believe that people wish to have devastating circumstances that lead them to homelessness? It’s a chaotic world out there and some of us just can’t cope with the demands of our society.

  18. I am so saddened by some of the mean and sometimes hateful comments above. What has happened to Empathy? Humanity? Caring and Concern? We are a nation that purposely established programs using our tax dollars to help and care for those who need our help. Who am I to find fault or worthiness of that help? Are we not our brother’s keeper?
    My husband and I are currently camping in a state park in Minnesota and I met a couple that are also full-timers. They however were doing it in a very, very old trailer without a bathroom and had brought their dishes and clothes to wash in the park’s large dishwashing sinks. They were obviously struggling. We exchanged information on campgrounds, places we had been and where we go in the winter as I would with any other full timer. We left wishing each other safe travels.
    I was aware that I could go to a laundromat or use the washer and dryer in our brand new motorhome when we had full hookups again and that I wouldn’t be at the dishwashing sink if I was using the dishwasher in the motorhome either.
    Financial separation is a thin line and I am grateful for a job that didn’t end on the cusp of retirement, having had a home to voluntarily leave, health, and the ability to CHOOSE to live this dream.

  19. I’m one pf those homeless. I was living in my minivan until 2 months ago. I’m now in a 20 year old travel trailer with a leaky and disintegrating roof. I’m handicapped and living on Social Security and don’t have the financial resources to repair the roof along with all the other things constantly breaking. My sister bought the trailer for me to live in, but she doesn’t have the money to fix the roof. I’m really frightened that there will be a terrible rainstorm and the roof will fall in on me and damage all my belongings. Meanwhile, the lady I rent space from is constantly asking for more money for electricity, garbage and internet. I’m at the end of what I can pay her per month and don’t know what I will do if I can’t afford to live on her property. Where will I go if I have to leave. I can’t pull the trailer with my minivan. I have no credit, my creditors are constantly calling me and even the IRS wants money. Some days I’m filled with such despair, I can barely get out of bed.

  20. Understandably (and seemingly unrelated to RVing) it looks like everyone has an opinion on how we should combat homelessness and what’s wrong with how is handled from blaming the federal govt to the state. Personally I think local government needs to seriously get involved more too. It all starts at home.

    Our local communities need to create subsidies for low-income people, especially those who are medically fragile and in need of affordable housing.

    They also need to be recruiting landlords and apartment owners to work to place people in their units with these subsidies.

    Further steps include the removal of housing barriers for people with criminal histories, the creation of more permanent supportive housing units, and the continued education of landlords.

    • Section 8 is a thing. I am a small landlord and would happily work with it and have. The program has lots of problems. They do not let the people on the list, years long list, know if there is an availability. There is no list that the landlords are put on nor a list given to the landlord of prospective tenants. I would guess that most landlords don’t take Section 8. There is a lot of paperwork, hoops to jump through and hit or miss if you get someone who is resposible or healthy enough to take care of the property and their part of the rent.

      It is easy to say take away the barriers for people with criminal histories. Who should I allow in your neighborhood? Burglers? drug dealers? Rapists? Murderers? Pedophiles? I will consider a victimless crime. Minor possession or something stupid when someone was a young adult. But, if your a spousal or child abuser, or any of the other above nouns why should I be responsible for housing you?

  21. We live FT in Texas and we have always homeschooled. One reason is simply because when being technical, the State of Texas considers students living in a campground or in a situation “not intended to be permanent” is considered homeless.

    In addition to many other reasons, we did not want to attach the stigma of being the homeless kid at school. We don’t care what people think but a kid in middle school shouldn’t have to deal with it. He’s 18 now and could care less what people think either.

    Are there “homeless” people living in RVs? Yes and there’s plenty of “homefull” people living in RVs too. It’s all about your attitude on your circumstances and/or choices.

    Here’ are the State of TX education guru’s definitions of homelessness:
    42 U.S.C. §11434a provides:
    (2) The term “homeless children and youths”’–
    (A) means individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence (within the meaning of section 11302(a)(1) of this title); and
    (B) includes–
    (i) children and youths who are sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason; are living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camping grounds due to the lack of alternative adequate accommodations; are living in emergency or transitional shelters; are abandoned in hospitals; or are awaiting foster care placement;

  22. Wow, I have learned a lot from reading this article and I have learned a lot from reading people’s comments too.

  23. There are a lot of abandoned military facilities that could be used for the homeless instead of just rotting away…. I’d like to travel with my rv but I’m alone and disabled and probably could not do it alone except for just going to visit family and have a place to park it… lets face it some of these rv parks have really jumped their prices

  24. It’s a question most politicians don’t want to deal with as it will bring them unwanted negative press. Many people are homeless and in rvs for many different reasons. Hard times, divorce, layoffs, and when you’re over 50 it’s hard to get a job, and last but not least mental illness and drug addiction.

    We can’t lump eveyone together as they all have different needs. I agree with Dee on local and city governments being proactive by providing the most important of all services that have a relatively low cost to tax payers and that is fresh water, and dump sites. No reason why it’s not being done.

    Provide services for the different categories I have listed above. How many people, and I know a few, live on less than $800 on Social Security or Disability? Are they able to work, willing to work, and know that they can earn a certain amount while on SS and not be taxed to death?

    Mentally ill are out there, and people don’t realize the cost of medicine and the fact that if you don’t have an address you are less likely to be treated and with little or no money cannot afford medications that provide them stability.

    By providing services, instead of punishing the homeless, the city and state would help to control, reduce and help people by providing jobs for many who are willing, and most of all, able to help within their homeless communities.

    In the end, this is not going away and will continue to get worse as the global economy is changing. It’s not about import tariffs, companies moving overseas, etc., it’s the plain and simple fact that the height of the 50s, 60s and 70s are gone. Get used to and stop looking to blame others.

    How many of us rvers who are more fortunate are willing to help some of these homeless rvers? My way of helping is to show them how they can survive, be happy and live on much less by moving to Mexico, purchase low-cost healthcare here and enjoy the years they have left instead of being beaten over the head for being less fortunate. JMHO

  25. Well folks there are different “classes” of RVers. The streets of Seattle are cluttered with RV vagrants who have CHOSEN their lifestyle of drugs, alcohol, panhandling, cooking meth and dealing herion out of their RVs and committing petty crime and sometimes worse. These are the people who leave their used needles in the streets and defecate in the streets when the plumbing in their derelict motorhome fails. It is because of the RV vagrants that Walmart is banning camping in their parking lots. They are NOT “poor and down and out.” They are drug addicted vagrants.

    • I would stop tossing all in the same pot Lydia. You could find yourself some day in the same pot. Pointing the finger of shame without total understating the situation and guessing all are doing drugs and really some are just down and out because of current times whether job losses or burnt out of their homes is wrong for you to speak to because your making an assumption. Never assume what you don’t know and always assume what you do know and for that you’ll understand more what of is unknown.

  26. The poor have always been looked down upon by those that are well-off. It was that way 3000 years ago and it will be that way 1000 years from now. There are compassionate exceptions, but they are in the minority. What are those individuals and families to do when they cannot possibly afford to pay monthly rent on an apartment and the utilities? They just might be able to scrape enough together to buy an old trailer or motorhome. The roof may leak when it rains and maybe the electric doesn’t work or they can’t hook up to a water spigot because the pipes leak inside…but it is shelter they can afford. Where are the poor to go? This nation spends countless millions / billions on the military every year while the poor struggle to live day to day. All of you who say “just get a job” or “they could do better if they just tried” have no idea how daily desperation tears at your soul. Where have all the jobs gone that used to blanket this nation, in every little town across America? They have gone where business could pay workers pennies on the dollar and amass huge profits. Why do you think the numbers of poor living day to day in old RV’s has exploded??? Because there is no place else they can go. In old England they lived in wretched slums rife with disease and starvation. In third world countries they live in conditions we cannot imagine in our worst nightmare. Cannot America provide these poor with someplace safe to park their tired old RV, with a place to cleanse their bodies, dispose of their waste, and sleep safely through the night? Something as simple as having an address could provide the first step toward a better life for these people. A nation should be judged upon how it helps the least of its citizens. A nation as rich as ours should invest in compassion.

    • Unfortunately the reality of compassion comes with a price tag. In todays economy, the line between being compassionate and needing compassion is becoming thinner all the time.

    • You have to define “poor”. I would bet that a very small percentage of vagrant RVers are “poor” due to no fault of their own. Most of the ones causing the problems as Lidia said, is by choice.

  27. To those who gripe about paying anything to help those who live in RVs due to homelessness, I ask if you’d rather pay to have them stay in subsidized housing and then pay for their other local benefits? It seems to me that it would be a lot cheaper to provide parking spots, water, and dumpsters for homeless RVers (who bought their “homes” on their own dimes) than to provide all the other benefits typically provided for the poverty-stricken.

    Aside from that, the problem isn’t just homelessness. The real problems are irresponsibility and thoughtlessness, two faults that are found in every demographic. It isn’t only poor folks who trash their environment. Don’t get me started on the RVers who are well enough off to afford ATVs, and who then feel entitled to utterly trash our public lands and roads with their off-roading and mud-bogging! There’s no difference between them and the RV sqatters who dump their loads on Walmart parking lots and city streets. Bad behavior isn’t dictated by what you call home, whether it be a tent, a beater rig, or a mansion.

    • Well said. I agree with you completely. Our economy is completely out of whack. How many of us oldsters remember when you were just out of HS and could get a ordinary job that would pay for an apartment, food and beer? You can’t live on a full time entry level job any longer. And inflation-adjusted salaries for production workers actually declined in the last year. “The rent’s too {bleeped} high”. RV’s don’t fix the core problem, but at least they give people a relatively secure place to call their own. We should provide them with affordable places to park their rigs.

      • Really? If we were to provide free parking, water, dump station and dumpsters for garbage for the “homeless”. Then everyone should jump on the utopian bandwagon and buy an old junker and we could all live for free. You think we are in an economic mess now. I can only imagine the chaos. Someone has to pay for it.

      • Define “we”?

        Homeless individuals within the United States are assisted through various Federal programs. Examples include the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSD) and the Social Security Supplemental Income (SSI) programs. Such applicants may qualify through their medical records. The Social Security Disability Insurance service extends benefits to families if they have earned sufficient work “credits.” The Social Security Supplemental Income service offers financial assistance towards individuals in need who are disabled, blind or elderly. All working Americans pay for these benefits.

        HUD estimates that it costs $60,000 each year to house a homeless family in a shelter. Because of this, HUD has various programs in place to help families, including rapid rehousing and permanent housing vouchers. Housing vouchers from HUD are considered especially important for helping to prevent families with children from becoming homeless and also to help these families be able to leave the shelter system permanently. Another government program funded by the American people. The government chips in too.

        The Department of Veterans Affairs is solely aimed at helping homeless veterans. Although this organization assists a specific concentration of individuals, it currently constitutes the largest network of homeless treatment within the United States. Again with the taxes.

        Not that any of these resources for the homeless are to be discounted. It’s just a few examples of areas that We the People are helping.

  28. Have lived in our MH for the last 14 years. Started when we lost our jobs and choose the MH over our stick home. We took up workamping to pay the bills until my husband got sick.

    We are not homeless – just no ‘roots’.

  29. My wife and I are 1/2 timers – vs – full timers. We have a sticks and bricks house in So Dak but can’t afford to heat it in the winter. (That’s our excuse and we’re sticking with it) We use Americas Mailbox for our mail and vehicle registrations if they come due in the cold months. But as far as expense we head for Quartzsite AZ and pull in to one of the BLM administered Long Term Visitor Areas. $180 dollars total cost for all 7 months.
    BLM provides water points, dump stations, and dumpsters for garbage. The sun provides power and dries our clothes. Works fine for us.

    • That is what should be done by people who park long term
      on city streets or in Parking lots. They should be given a coupon to pay the $180 for 7 months and maybe some gas money to get them to the BLM land where they can live permanently without causing us taxpayers the expense of building them affordable housing!

      • The trouble with that idea is that most of these “homeless RVers” in Seattle and the other large cities would not leave because the extremely generous governments prefer to offer plans (at taxpayer expense) that draw people from other less giving areas. Also, the people in BLM areas like to keep the areas well maintained for the most part. They would not like trash or bodily waste scattered around. Nor would they like panhandlers or untrustworthy neighbors. If they throw their trash on a street that has trash cans every block or so, why would they not throw their waste in a BLM open area where the dumpster would require a much longer walk, AND receive no city or private hand outs.

  30. We live in our RV full time, but we stay at a campground. Illinois in the summer where our grandkids are and Florida in the winter. One of the problems with living full time in the RV is getting your drivers license renewed. They want a permanent address so you have to lie. If you could do something about this issue that would be great so we don’t have to lie about a permanent address. We currently use a PO Box for our mail in Illinois and it is forwarded to Florida by the post office to our park down there where we have a mail box. We actually use a permanent address where we used to live but we know the person that lives there. Kids work all week and don’t get to the post office as often so that doesn’t work for us either. It is a problem for us full time RVers.

    • Years ago I legally got an AZ driver’s license although I didn’t live there. I used the address of a friend who lived in AZ, after asking at the license dept. if I could do that. It was fine with them; they merely wanted an address if contact needed to be made. (This was the Yuma office.)

      It’s generally known that full-timers without a home can easily get a vehicle license in SD, but you can also legally get a driver’s license without living there. It’s a bit more complicated, but can be done. Call the state to find out how to do it.

    • Oregon has an address of “continuous traveler” that Oregon residents (i.e., taxpayers) can put on their DL. You still need a mailing address, but that’s pretty simple.

  31. While I have empathy for the people who ended up living in their RV’s out of necessity, I believe there are also many that do not deserve our concern. When I lived in Central Florida (for 35 years) I witnessed panhandlers discard food given to them a soon as the car pulled away. All they wanted was cash. It was so bad that the Orlando Sentinel ran a series of articles in their Sunday paper. It detailed the number of homeless and discussed the different reasons for their homelessness. While a number, mostly families, were victims of circumstance; loss of job led to losing home for instance, there were many more that made homelessness into a career. They had decent vehicles and probably skills to get work but panhandling paid better and was way less work. Some weren’t even homeless. Interviews with some of them revealed that many of them treated it just like a job, they’d drive to their preferred intersection and park out of sight. Then they’d take off the clean shirt and replace it with a ragged dirty one. They would stand on that corner with a sign saying anything from “I’m hungry” to “Will work for food”. Since all of us coming by on our way to work, etc. had to come to a stop there many felt guilty and came up with some money. I personally witnessed these things many times traveling to and from work.

    Now, with all of that being said I do feel that there should be some resources available for RVers who can’t afford to live in campsites. Maybe as simple as city/county government providing a waste disposal site where tanks could be emptied and trash discarded. Combining that with a potable water source and maybe phone charging might encourage some to stop treating Walmart and other parking lots so badly. Most municipalities have multiple sources for free food, why not these other basic needs? Maybe a private donor could provide the land and the local citizens provide some of the labor and materials. It doesn’t seem like it would take a huge amount of land to provide some dumpsites, dumpsters and potable water spigots. Maybe even adding bath houses with shower facilities.

    Well, I’ll get off my soapbox now. I will continue to be grateful for the blessings I have.

    • I remember Dallas, TX doing a very similar article with the same results. There was “lady” who held a doll, pretending it was a child. She especially went out during the rain. She made $80k a year and this was in the ’90s. Makes you a little biased and think twice about handing out money at stoplights.

  32. Sorry to hear of some of the commenters situations, but the bulk of the tax payers who are doing what they can to keep a roof over their own families heads should not have the additional expense of providing support for things like safe parking lots, dump stations water and electricity. I have to pay for those out of my own pocket and to prevent being homeless myself I have needed to relocate to a different town to find work. It is possible for us all to find ourselves falling on hard times, but it is up to us to turn that around. I don’t believe going from working class to homelessness happens over night. It’s important to be honest with yourself and talk with family about what would happen if you became unemployed or have a medical emergency. What would you do. Sorry for rambling but just my thoughts on this.

  33. My Husband and I became more – less homeless Caused by His job with one company Moved to Mexico. His second job laid him off as soon as he qualified for their Health insurance program!.. Why, I had suffered 3 strokes 3 days after he started that job, and they did not want me on there health insurance.. (long story, but the fasts was ovious) After suffering 3 strokes, I became disabled and cant work. took over a year and a good lawyer to help me get on disability. With the lay off’s, and health issues, we quickly depleted our saving. And With his lower income and my un-ability to work, His income was not enough to pay for our home, autos, medical bills (because we had no health ins) and monthly common bills. We pretty much lost everything. When my disability came through, We use the back pay funds to buy an older small 5th wheel. We did try looking for an apartment, but we had 4 dogs, that no one was willing to rent to us with more then one. So we had three choices.. get rid of our dogs.. live in the streets, or live in an RV. And I rather live in the streets then give up my dogs. So now were full time RV’ers Or also classed as trailer trash. The land of Plenty, the Land of FREE.. to work all your life to end it living it in an RV, and be thankful it’s not a cardboard box.

    • That’s what we’re talking about, irresponsible people that choose to be “trailer trash” your words, than give up three dogs that you can’t afford to take proper care of so you can live in an apartment instead of on the street.

      • Really John? My take on this woman’s situation is that they are now fulltime RVers. Her use of the term “trailer trash” was a bit tongue-in-cheek, as if saying that’s what others may call us. Sounds to me like they’ve had a pretty tough go of things but they made some decisions that work for them. I think it’s unfair for you to call them irresponsible. How do you know they “can’t afford to take proper care” of their dogs? How do you know they’re “living on the street?” I think you’ve jumped to some conclusions that may not be warranted.

  34. Dicey question…When camping in a wooded area, the old adage is to leave only footprints. If this were true of Rver’s in parking lots or on the streets, this may not even be an issue, but it’s not. The truth is, if living in a RV for a long period of time, services are required. Water, sewage dumping, trash disposal, and battery recharging become essential.
    I am appalled at the mess some people leave behind in a Walmart lot. This business allows RV’s to park on their property without charge. True they hope you buy something while you are there and leave no footprint when you leave. I think this may be the crux of the matter…what is left behind.
    I’m sure many “squatters” are good neighbors and clean up after themselves…seeking proper places to dispose of their waste but many don’t and it’s hard to deal with one without hurting the other.

  35. I am currently in Amarillo, Texas and the Walmart parking lot has “squatters” all over the parking lot making it look less than an ideal place to do business. They all have signs begging for handouts so it is uncomfortable to even shop there.

    • James E. This is becoming a more common sight. If it continues, Walmart will put “No overnight parking” on all its stores. And then where will everybody stay when they can’t find an RV park with a space or can’t afford one? It’s a question that we are addressing at

      • If a Walmart lot is full of trash, that is the result of poor management. Sam Walton coined the acronym MBWA – Management By Walking Around. He lived this by personally visiting all of his stores once a year. While that might not be so doable anymore, any retail manager worth their salt knows the first thing you do every shift is to walk around to make sure your store looks as good as it possibly can – clean, stocked and staffed and that includes the parking lot.

        If anybody is abusing overnight parking priveleges they can be asked to leave or they can be towed – their choice. If the management chooses to do nothing, or to throw out the “Good” RVs along with the “Bad”, their sales and in turn their paychecks will be diminished – again their choice.

        So where will everybody stay when they can’t find an RV Park or especially can’t afford one? Welcome to the plight of the homeless RVers. Feel any more empathy now?

  36. It’s important not to use classist distinctions between those with attractive, well-maintained RVs and those with older, cheaper, and perhaps less-maintained RVs. RVers are all in this together, and it only takes the blink of an eye (an accident, a natural disaster, or another financial crash) for someone in a fancy $250k class A to find themselves at the same “level” as someone in a beat up old class B.

    Criminalizing the use of public property with anti-homeless laws and anti-RV laws is something that should worry all of us. No one is completely self-sufficient. We all must rely on others to grow our food, repair our RVs (or manufacture the parts for us to do repairs ourselves), to maintain RV parks we pay for, and the public lands we ALSO pay for.

    It’s also important to remember that public property (like streets) and public land (like parks and BLM land) was taken by force from the land’s original inhabitants over the last two centuries. None of us has any more right to this land than anyone else, except for the land’s original inhabitants and their ancestors.

    We have an ethical obligation to ensure everyone has equitable access to nomadic parking and facilities (not just RVs, but car and tent dwellers too). It’s much easier and cheaper to provide spaces to park and places to dump waste than it is to repeatedly clean up what happens when people don’t have access to these things.

    And allowing my fellow RVers and fellow human beings to live safely is a no-brainer. Providing places to park and dump waste prevents the spread of disease and allows for a more pleasant life for all of us. I am not so cruel as to think that other people don’t have the right to exist, or the right to exist in an RV, or to think that they should be forced to live in segregated Poor People Housing (but only the sticks and bricks kind), simply because they fell on hard times.

    • So YOU pay for it all.

      Deadbeats have always existed and always will. Personal choices put most into their predicaments.

      • I basically agree with “Deadbeats”. All the empathy in the world doesn’t change those who choose this ‘lifestyle’. I think the term “most” pretty much covers it.

        • I didn’t CHOOSE my lifestyle, it was all I had left. After my office closed and my unemployment ran out (it always came 4 months late) and having worked for the better part of 45 years I lost my house. I now live in a 5th wheel, smallish and older. I volunteer for Habitat for Humanity and work for the ability to park for a small fee or no fee. When traveling from job to job I use Walmart, blessings be upon them. I think every one who ‘assumes’ homelessness is a choice is totally wrong. Shame on you.

      • Like deadbeats there will always be lucky people who think they got hearth and home on their own. I realize without my family and friends, I could be looking for somewhere to spend the night. Our parents/extended family, mental aptitude, and where we are born are not choices. Yet I feel these facts have more to do with where we end up, after life knocks us down, than choices we make along the way. I am thankful for my luck in being born with two out of three, mostly my supportive family. After working continuously for 47 years we are now in our 2018 Montana 5th wheel, pulled by our 2018 F350 Dually, I take pride in what my wife and I have done to get here but hope I never forget that a longer recession, or less family support and I could be in a 25 year old C class looking for somewhere to sleep. And trust me it would not be by my choice.

        • I agree completely agree with Benny H….I just found out a week ago that my job is being “eliminated” after 16 years there. I am in two weeks going to be 58 years old. I have been working and contributing to society since I was 15 years old…I have never not been without a job I am very frightened of what is now in front of me…finding a new job at my age with no college degree is going to be challenging……. I have been divorced and raised my two boys pretty much on my own. Sometimes working two jobs in order to make ends meet. They are grown up now both working and taking care of themselves and contributing to society paying their taxes and helping others in need when they can….it was not an easy road when my husband left…I know I am not alone, there are thousands out there just like me that have managed on their own. I know that without the help of my parents/siblings and friends I am not sure I would have made it when I fell on hard times. I am thankful for what I have and like Benny I am thankful for my luck being born where I was, great parents and not suffering with mental health issues. I am now preparing for another HUGE life altering event ..losing my job… I might end up losing everything I have worked so hard for my house, my small little camper(older)not to mention my hopes to retire someday and live simple and just enjoy the beauty of nature with my dog and camper…I have my parents here still at 80 years old and healthy that have my back, my siblings who will do what they can to help and my friends. Emotional support is HUGE …There are so many that lose everything that do not have the lucky 3 or even 2 esp those folks that suffer with mental health issues. Life can turn on a dime….I do my best to try and be thankful for what I have and not judge others. Way to much of that goes on …all you have to do is turn on the TV to see that. “Deadbeats” is a term that must be used with caution. I now climb off my personal soapbox.

    • Excellent response and the key to all our humanity concerns. No life should be valued less than another. Of course this subject goes deeper than the RV homeless issue. It starts tho by providing a safe place to live. In return, their help maintaining property and addressing what is necessary to improve their economic status. Then, move toward what is necessary to improve their situation. Give a fish or teach to fish. Some want or can improve. Some dont. That will never change. It’s just the right thing to do.

    • I once volunteered for Oregon City Parks. I cleaned up the city parks for a couple of weeks – picked up trash, raked leaves. I asked the supervisor why there weren’t more trash cans in the parks, noting I sometimes had to walk across a park to throw things away. He said If people are going to properly dispose of garbage, they will walk to the trash can just like you do. If they are the type to throw it on the ground, they will do so no matter how close the nearest can is.
      He was right. I found myself picking up garbage literally right next to (covered – no, it didn’t blowout) garbage cans. Now, years later, I walk my dog all over this nicer neighborhood, and every day I find dog poop bagged up but left along the road. These are people who know to pick it up, and can afford the bags, but are too lazy to carry it home to their own trash can.
      My point? People who want to be clean, are. People who don’t, won’t. People get all upset when suggestion is made that we are NOT all the same. They say all RVers are alike. But that is simply not true. Some people – in RVs, hotels, apartments, or homes – live in filth and are comfortable that way. Those who put out the time, effort, and expense to keep their (literal) poop in its place, should not be forced to pay for cleaning up after the others, or to live next to the detritus.


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