April 24, 2019

Finding Home in a Parking Lot

“Jamie used to wake up most nights with a flashlight in his face. From the backseat bed he’d winnowed into his SUV, he’d look up to see a police officer rapping on his window. Keep driving, they’d tell him. But Jamie didn’t have anywhere to drive. “I asked them repeatedly, ‘isn’t there somewhere I can go where it’s not going to be a problem with you?’”

For Jamie, who turned 55 last month, the car was his only destination: it’s where he’s slept for most of the past two years, he says, save a 6-month stint he spent “in the bushes.” After the retail music store he’d worked at for eight years went out of business, he got evicted from his apartment in San Diego, and crashed with friends and family until their goodwill ran out. Then he got a new temporary job as a flooring installer, and the job came with a car. When the gig was over, his employer let him keep the vehicle. And then it became his sanctuary.

Jamie is one of thousands of America’s homeless who, instead of turning to shelters or the streets, live in their cars, vans, and RVs. In many cities where housing prices are high, their ranks, too, are growing. Los Angeles, which reported falling homelessness rates this year, still hosts one of the largest populations in the country: Of the 50,000 total homeless residents, the majority are unsheltered, and about a quarter (or 15,700) are based in their cars. In San Diego County, where Jamie still lives, a January 2018 homeless count found that 1,262 residents lived in vehicles there, although the number is likely higher, because it didn’t include people living in RVs. And in the King County area, where Seattle is located, the entire unsheltered population increased by 15 percent between 2017 and 2018. In that same year, the number of those in their cars leapt 46 percent, to reach 3,372.”

Read more

JJ Editor's Daily Picks

"After five years of war with the Islamic State, the biggest problem for the winners is coping with the losers. The aftermath has produced one of the world’s most perplexing postwar challenges..."

"What do we mean when we say that the “soul of the city” is under threat? Often, it’s really about politics, nostalgia, and the fear of community change."

"...the pendulum of history never stops moving. Indeed, one of the few constants of history is unceasing change. While we seem to be heading in one direction, we must remember that there will surely be pauses, turns, and reversals."

""Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé," premiered early Wednesday and it was the fulfillment of all the ancestors' hopes and dreams. Beyoncé also dropped "Homecoming: The Live Album.""

"Seven in 10 adults ages 18 to 34 received financial support from their parents in the last year, including more than half of those in their early 30s. Almost three in five millennials said they couldn’t afford their lifestyles without the support."

"Social media influencers have helped turn public lands into tourist-infested swamps. And one cantankerous man is fighting back."

"One particular myth that attached itself to Ledger was that his death was somehow a result of immersing himself in the character of the Joker."

"In 2018, for the second year in a row, American publishers released fewer translated titles: 609 books were published, down from 650 in 2017 and the industry high in 2016 of 666."

"Egg freezing had become so routine among my single peers that when I hit 35, I never thought twice. Here’s what I wish I had known."

"When it comes to Passover cuisine, most home cooks know to avoid wheat, oats, rye, and other forbidden ingredients. But what consumers might not realize is just how much cotton they eat during the holiday."

"A masked figure looms over your recumbent body, wielding power tools and sharp metal instruments, doing things to your mouth you cannot see."

"Passover is a holiday that commemorates the Jewish people escaping slavery in Egypt. It is often referred to as the “festival of freedom.” My Passover in prison was at a place called the Wallkill Correctional Facility..."