Nadine Beresford thought she solved her homelessness problem when she put $200 down on a 1974 Dodge Camper nearly two months ago but hasn’t found a trailer or RV park that will rent her a space.
“They say there’s not enough room or that my camper is too old,” the 69-year-old said one recent morning.
She parks her camper outside a homeless encampment — Camp Hope — behind the former Kmart on East Nob Hill Boulevard, where she’s not allowed to sleep in it overnight because the camp lacks required permits and services for RV hookups, reports the Yakima Herald.
Instead, she sleeps in one of the large military tents in the camp with several other homeless people. “It’s not an easy thing to do because I wake up freezing — we all do because they don’t have heat yet,” she said. Camp organizers say they will soon install portable heaters for the winter.
Beresford is among a segment of the homeless population relying on old campers, RVs and even cars for shelter. Most of them are living on meager monthly disability or Social Security payments.
But with most RV parks full or unwilling to allow older models inside, there’s no place for them to park for extended periods of time. They park in one area for a while but are forced to move after being issued a tow notice, a repeating scenario for most.
Beresford avoided that by going to the homeless encampment, where she’s allowed to bring her three small schnauzers into the tent to sleep overnight. She returns to her camper during the day.
“I just sit in here and read during the day,” she said of her camper. “Sometimes I go and socialize at the camp, but at night I have to pack up my dogs and stay in the tent.”
RV parks are feeling the same squeeze as the housing market. Yakima had a 0.8 percent vacancy rate among rental apartments this spring.
To the north in Naches Trout Meadows RV Park, owner K. J. Lim gets calls daily from people seeking a space, but he has to turn them away. He has only 22 spaces at his park and they’re occupied with long-term tenants.
“I was getting almost five, six calls a day, ‘do you have space?’ ” he said. “They keep asking, ‘where should I go?’ I couldn’t answer them because all the RV parks are full.”