Mobile Homelessness Is Becoming Too Expensive

gas is too expensive for mobile homelessness

Homeless Woman Faces Threat of Being Priced Out of Vehicular Homelessness

Just when you think things can’t get worse, they do. You think you’ve sunk low enough, and well-meaning people tell you, “When you hit bottom, there’s nowhere to go but up.” That is true, except I am in a bottomless pit. There is no hitting bottom. There is only descending lower. I know a lot of people can relate to this.

My van is the only thing between me and the street, yet I cannot even feel safe about that. In addition to constant repairs and upkeep, the gas prices are still too high for me, and the insurance cost is a problem. I am broke within days of getting my disability allotment.

The help I receive from others is so vital, but I live in constant fear that I will lose that, too. I’ve lost so much already that all I can do is live in constant fear of what I will lose next. The concept of being priced out of all housing options is frightening enough. But now I face the new reality of being priced out of vehicular homelessness! 

This doesn’t mean I do not practice gratitude for what I have. I know damn well that I’ve been luckier than some people who have it worse. A few days ago, I saw three homeless people hunkered down under a shallow awning outside a store as it rained. They had backpacks but no rain gear. I was in my van. That makes me the luckier of us. But if I lose the van, I will be one of them, only worse because I am chronically ill and disabled. 

My life ended in 2012.

When I was kicked to the curb by my ex (after ten years of providing unconditional love and loyalty to this person), I was devastated beyond words to be deemed so worthless. I learned so many lessons from that experience. Never again will I get involved with anyone in terms of a relationship. Friends are fine, but never anything more. 

Getting into a relationship because it will supposedly solve something, like preventing homelessness, is a waste of effort and an invitation to pain. Most relationships crumble before long. It’s doubtful that a disabled, homeless woman like me would meet anyone genuine, sincere, and (most importantly) compatible, and with the means of elevating you out of homelessness with no other motivation than pure love. Therefore, settling for a relationship to keep a roof over your head, only to live with the threat of ending up homeless again (the moment they tire of you), is hardly worth the stress.

Simply put, I do not believe in true love other than as an occasional anomaly. I love being alone anyway, so friends who say things like, “you need to find a guy who will take care of you,” might have my best wishes in mind, but the answer is, “NO!”. That’s a rabbit hole I will never go down. Plus, using someone to get me out of this trouble is unethical, and I wouldn’t do it.

For the foreseeable future, my van is the only option to keep a “roof” over my head. 

As for my van, finding a van that would have fewer issues than my current one would be sheer luck. A real “needle in a haystack” kind of thing. Used vehicles are always in need of repair.

People usually unload vehicles when they hit a certain age or mileage because with high mileage usually comes trouble. Even a perfectly maintained vehicle is at risk once it reaches a high mileage and about ten years. Poverty-stricken people like me always end up with older vehicles that cost more to maintain. Worse, the used car market has been horrendous in recent years.

Used cars are getting bought by companies reselling them for far more than they are worth, using fear tactics in their advertising. They make it sound as if they’re doing you a huge favor: Go to them, and they will take care of everything, including bringing the vehicle to your door. No more dealing with unknown entities or pushy used car salespeople. No more traveling to see a vehicle for sale. They will even give you a limited warranty. What could go wrong? 

Well, in 2020, my van was $5,000. It was 11 years old at the time. A few months ago, as an experiment, I looked up the same model of vehicle that I have and found a few listed on one of these heavily advertised sites with similar mileage to mine when I acquired it. As it turns out, the cheapest I found my model van for was $19,000! What?

How is a vehicle that is now 13 years old with high mileage worth almost $20,000?

In 2020 it was worth about $6,000. Vehicles don’t appreciate in value! Oh, but don’t worry, these companies offer financing! You can pay it off. So, in the end, the $19,000 van will cost a whole lot more.

To add insult to injury, I know someone who bought a vehicle this way, and no sooner did it go out of the short warranty period than it began to need repairs, at which point it cost the high price of the repairs plus the payment plan every month to pay it off. So actually, buying mine via Craigslist was the much better option.

My van has a good balance between being big enough to accommodate my 27″ wide wooden platform and foams on top (let’s pretend it’s a real bed, shall we?) and, next to that, my mobility scooter. It’s not too huge, either. However, its fuel economy is horrible.

My current van is not an upgrade in fuel economy versus my old one, but it is in terms of the overall condition and additional space. In comfortable weather, you can sleep pretty well in it. I tell you all this to say that replacing my van isn’t so simple because, aside from my financial restraints, I have to take all the important details of it needing to essentially be a rolling bedroom into account.

Vehicle-dwelling homeless people have more needs and criteria than simply having a reliable vehicle. It must be a reliable “home.”


Homeless Loki

Homeless Loki

  

Homeless Loki is a disabled homeless person also on the autism spectrum currently homeless in upstate New York

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