GSS adjunct professor and doctoral candidate Antoine Lovell appeared on moneygeek.com recently, in an article titled, “Financial Support & Resources for People Living in Their Vehicles.” Lovell, who was also featured in last year’s ABC docuseries Our America: Living While Black, provided insight on resources and safety precautions available for those forced into vehicular residency during the COVID-19 pandemic.
His quotes from the article:
How has COVID-19 impacted vehicular residency?
COVID-19 exposed an already-existing housing affordability crisis and further pushed those at the margin of society into homelessness. Since homelessness is a lagging indicator of poverty, COVID-19 increased extreme income poverty, most notably by forcing those in already unstable housing into substandard conditions. With mass evictions as a sign of economic instability due to COVID-19, an unfortunate housing option for families experiencing homelessness has been through vehicle residency. While vehicle residency is not officially tracked by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), what has been shown is an upward trend in the use of vehicles as a housing option, specifically among unsheltered populations.
What is the biggest challenge to overcome when people try to make the transition from vehicular residency back into a home? How can they overcome this challenge?
Experiencing homelessness is traumatic. With trauma comes a whole host of short- and long-term risk factors that can pose a challenge to housing stability; however, these issues can be mitigated with proper social and economic support. Some of the risk factors associated with vehicular residency include compromised health, employment stability, substance misuse and continuing economic vulnerability. Depending on the location, there have been services put into place by governmental entities to support those that experience vehicular residency.
What resources should individuals/families living in their car seek out in their home cities?
Using a community-wide approach, The CDC has made recommendations on best practices for addressing COVID-19 among unsheltered homeless populations. Among these recommendations are resources available to unsheltered homeless people, such as access to healthcare, law enforcement, homeless service providers and housing through municipalities and peer support. Many of these resources were funded through the CARES Act and allocated through HUD into Emergency Solution Grants (ESG). Also, safe parking programs have been implemented at several locations to address vehicle residency. Depending on the location, municipalities have carved out spaces with security for those experiencing vehicular residency.
For individuals and families living in their cars, what do you recommend for staying safe?
For those experiencing vehicular residency, I suggest they contact a local service provider directly or through their local governmental entity that provides services to homeless populations. In the absence of those services being available, they should contact religious institutions that provide shelter and food.