I notice an increasing number of people in Los Angeles are living out of their car, including a lot of older people who can’t afford anything better. When you’re young, living on the couches of friends isn’t such a big deal. When you’re old and don’t have a home, it’s a nightmare. Here’s more.
LOS ANGELES (AP) – Having lost her job and her three-bedroom house, Darlene Knoll has joined the legions of downwardly mobile who are four wheels away from homelessness.
She is living out of her shabby 1978 RV, and every night she has to look for a place to park where she won’t get hassled by the cops or insulted by residents.
“I’m not a piece of trash,” the former home health-care aide said as she stroked one of five dogs in her cramped quarters parked in the waterfront community of Marina del Rey.
Amid the foreclosure crisis and the shaky economy, some California cities are seeing an increase in the number of people living out of their cars, vans or RVs.
Acting on complaints from homeowners, the Los Angeles City Council got tough earlier this year by forbidding nearly all overnight parking in residential neighborhoods such as South Brentwood.
But some people are just crowding into other parts of the city, including the seaside community of Venice, where dozens of rusty, dilapidated campers can be seen lined up outside neat single-family homes. The stench of urine emanates from a few of the vehicles, and some residents say they have seen human waste left behind.
“They’re nasty and gnarly,” said Venice resident Jeff Scharlin. “We’ve heard about drug dealing and prostitution in them. I’ve never seen it, but visually they’re a blight and they take up parking space.”
In Los Angeles, as in many other cities, it is illegal to live in vehicles on public streets. But the law is not easy to enforce. Police have to enter a vehicle to find signs that people are living there, such as cooking or sleeping, and occupants often refuse to answer when cops knock.
An easier way is to restrict overnight parking. In L.A., a first offense carries a $50 fine, and subsequent violations can cost as much as $100.
Parking-enforcement officers often give vehicle owners a warning and tell them to move on before issuing a ticket, and that usually solves the problem, said Alan Willis, a city transportation engineer. But other cities in the area are not as lenient.