Homelessness is an all-too-common occurrence in our society. One woman, however, found a way to gain shelter by purchasing an RV during the pandemic.
Helimah used her pandemic stimulus funds to try and stave off homelessness.
There are more than 580,000 homeless people in the U.S. Helimah’s decision to live in an RV didn’t stem from a desire to join the van life movement or become a full-time traveler but from necessity.
Helimah saw using her pandemic funds to purchase an RV as a potential way out of the homelessness staring her in the face.
Let’s explore her story.
Who Is Helimah and How Did She Buy an RV?
Helimah is a woman who lived in a rent-controlled property with her mother.
After her mother died, she couldn’t manage the rent. Helimah tried to live with other people, but eventually, she had no choice but to leave.
Homeless, Helimah eventually purchased an RV with pandemic stimulus money.
How Did Helimah Become Homeless?
After Helimah’s mom passed away, it was difficult for her to keep up with the payments in their rent-controlled home.
She tried to make the rent in two payments a month, but her property manager would not accept the rent in multiple payments.
Helimah said her rent was $2,000 per month, but after she moved out, the cost of the rent-controlled property increased to $4,200 per month. She then stayed with a “series of crazy, horrible people” as she tried to find a place to live.
Deciding she wasn’t going to put up with that any longer, Helimah purchased an RV with her pandemic money.
How Is Having an RV Helping Her?
First of all, having an RV gave Helimah a home of her own, even if it isn’t quite the home that she was used to. It also gave her some peace of mind after struggling with trying to live with other people in situations that weren’t working for her.
This didn’t happen overnight. There was, of course, the learning curve that comes with how an RV works and the expenses of fuel and maintenance.
Helimah also had to find a safe place to park her RV. She originally parked in an area that she soon realized was infested with gang members and drug addicts. She felt unsafe simply leaving her RV to find work.
After finding a more desirable location to park in, Helimah put herself in a situation where she could go out and try to get a job.
Who Is ‘Invisible People’ and What Is Its Mission?
Invisible People is an organization that believes the only way to fix homelessness is to change the narrative around the stigma surrounding it.
They do this by “educating the public about homelessness through innovative storytelling, news, and advocacy.”
Invisible People’s mission is to eradicate homelessness by “giving it a face while educating individuals about the systemic issues that contribute to its existence.”
They’re the ones who told Helimah’s story, posting a video interview with her on their YouTube channel. In educating individuals about the roots of homelessness, Invisible People hopes to encourage policy change and different approaches to solving the problem of homelessness.
What Challenges Are Homeless People Facing?
Homeless people face many challenges on a day-to-day basis. For most, it’s not as simple as searching for affordable housing, which is more of a struggle than ever. A large percentage of homeless people don’t have jobs.
Being homeless complicates trying to resolve the issues of employment and housing. Many homeless folks don’t have vehicles, or if they do, they don’t have money for fuel.
This means a lot of time walking or finding transportation just to get to appointments with people trying to help.
There’s also the daily search for food and a safe place to sleep. Shelters, food banks, and the like offer assistance, but most don’t operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Plus, simply finding a bathroom and somewhere to bathe or wash up is a monumental task in most places. Being unable to regularly bathe only serves to amplify the struggle in finding employment.
Even when homeless people get appointments for assistance, there’s often lots of paperwork involved. Where do they safely store this paperwork?
And what if they have to receive mail? It costs money to mail items, and it’s difficult to receive mail when you don’t have an address.
It’s also an unfortunate fact that not all homeless folks are single individuals. Many homeless parents have complicated situations because they also have children to feed, bathe, and clothe.
Helimah’s RV Gave Her Safety and a Way to Work
Helimah’s first choice wasn’t to live in an RV. She tried to remain in her rent-controlled home until it was no longer manageable. But purchasing an RV has been a tremendous benefit.
Having struggled to find somewhere to live where she felt comfortable and safe, Helimah’s RV provided her with shelter and safety. Finding a desirable location to park her RV allowed her a space to rest and find a job.
Her choice to purchase an RV isn’t the same as most folks who intentionally set out to be full-time RVers. Still, Helimah found a way to employ the lifestyle to help her find a way out of a desperate situation. It gave her a fighting chance to escape homelessness when she might otherwise have found herself stuck in a no-win situation.
Do you know any inspiring stories similar to Helimah’s?
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In some ways her life could get harder. You curl up on a sidewalk and you are generally left alone. But no city wants your old RV parked on the street illegally. That stigma you mention? Not going to go away. It’s really the feeling of guilt by people who aren’t in that situation, and don’t want to see it in their neighborhood. In fact in many neighborhoods you can’t park your own RV in your driveway. The USA has become a nation of snooty, uppity people. Those people who claim they want to help the homeless? Ha! Do you hear about any of them inviting people like this woman to park at their house? Nope. It’s the old N.I.M.B.Y.
However, there is another problem here. People feeling they are entitled to live where they want to, even if unaffordable. $2000 a month under rent control jumping to $4200 after she left. MOVE! I’m from the Midwest and can tell you it’s way cheaper. The place I sold to travel full time in my RV was a duplex, living in one and renting out the other for $550 a month. If you can’t afford to live where you are, MOVE!
It’s the same with RV living. The RV park I’m currently at in San Diego is $1138 a month plus about $122 in taxes. But if I couldn’t afford it I know of RV parks in places like New Mexico and Arizona where it’s $1000 for 6 months.