The Hollywood Reporter has an interesting story about people living in vans in the Los Angeles area. Unlike Chris Farley’s Matt Foley character, they aren’t motivational speakers — they’re just everyday entertainment workers who happen to live in their cars.
According to the article, the number of Angelenos who live in their vehicles has spiked. In 2017, 600 vehicles were being used as homes; now the number is up to 9,117. There’s even an organization called Safe Parking L.A. that operates secret, guarded lots where people living in cars can sleep with some security.
Why do so many people in southern California live in their vehicles? The high cost of housing factors into the decision-making of virtually everyone interviewed in the article. Some people simply can’t pay the exorbitant rents; others could afford the cost but object to doing so and live in their cars because it allows them to move more quickly toward their financial goals. But living in your car obviously comes at a cost, too. You have to strip down your possessions to a minimum and configure your vehicle to allow it, you need to develop a strategy for taking care of basic bodily functions, you’ve got to figure out where to park your car at night, and there are obvious, ongoing security concerns — which is why an organization like Safe Parking L.A. exists.
And there are other issues that people who don’t make their vehicle their home would never consider — like the need to drive very carefully through those crowded southern California highways and byways, because if you get into an accident and your car goes into the shop, you’ve just lost your housing until the repairs are completed.
Humans are highly adaptable creatures, and you have to admire the grit of people who have figured out how to live in vans. But I also wonder: is living in L.A. and being part of the entertainment industry really worth it if it means living in a van?