Mobile homelessness, a growing crisis in the U.S., refers to homeless people who live in their cars, rather than on the streets or in shelters, motels, campgrounds, parks, woods, and other public places. It is difficult to estimate how many people live in their cars. Cities such as Seattle, WA and San Diego, CA report that one-fifth of homeless people are living in their cars.
Why do people live in their cars? Consider these situations:
In some cities, living in your car is illegal. People try to find safe places to park overnight and get some sleep where they won’t get asked to leave or get robbed. Other cities—like Seattle, San Diego, and Santa Barbara, CA—allow people to park in designated areas run by the city or a non-profit organization. Some of these designated areas have additional services such as security and connections to social services; some do not.