We Need Innovative Solutions to Solve Homelessness

homeless encampment for RVs

Many housed people are teetering on edge, about to fall into the dark abyss of homeless life. They cannot make the outrageous cost of rent, particularly where COVID has severely damaged their finances.

Others may remain housed but living in their worse financial state ever as the cost of gas, food, and other necessities rise sharply. Even if the economy improves, can we expect to see that reflected at the grocery store or fuel pump in a meaningful way? I doubt it. Everything is rising. Some blame rising fuel costs. But even when fuel prices drop, few other things follow suit. I seriously doubt I will ever again see fuel go back to pre-COVID numbers in my area, averaging $2.40 a gallon.

The summer of 2021 showed “the powers that be” that people are willing to travel even if gas prices are a whole dollar higher and the cost of everything else has risen. Nothing will stop the masses from their good time – not plague, not price gouging, and that teaches the price setters that they can get away with it every time. How will anything get better for poor or average people with no financial relief?

3D printed houses, tiny houses, Safe Parking RV parks, Housing First, and other alternatives to the shelter system could be the answer for so many people. Yet, I do not see these options in abundance and certainly not in my area.

I did hear there was talk about building a tiny house community to address the housing situation here, but I know that the community isn’t interested in helping homeless people. 

Now, more than ever, as homelessness numbers are rising quickly, we need out-of-the-box thinking and fresh new ideas. 

I have an idea for a Safe Parking RV park. I envision a large piece of land surrounded by trees and greenery or fences that provide each unit with privacy. Unlike traditional RV parks geared toward vacationers, which are pretty expensive, the Safe Parking program would have the following provisions:

  • Minimum monthly costs to stay
  • Year-round living
  • Permanent residence allowed
  • Strict rules about noise and drugs

Life doesn’t have to be all that horrible for homeless people with no other option than to live in an RV. What makes it hard is finding safe places to overnight where you won’t get chased out. Even if you aren’t harassed, you cannot permanently park there. RV parks are costly and not an affordable option. Plus, the one closest to me is closed from October to April anyway.

Social services here told me they have no provision for staying in an RV. So my RV sits in storage, rotting away under a pile of shredding tarps. Yet for all its flaws, I’d be happy to make it work as a glorified tent, so long as I could be on a piece of land where no one can evict me.

My RV isn’t mobile anyway. It had tons of issues even when I first got it. I don’t even think I could drive anything so large. What I am looking for isn’t to enjoy the RV life. What I want is just something to call home and not be evicted. I am willing to settle for so much less than most people would.

I recently saw a video about a 3D-printed house made available in Virginia to a low-income family. HUD was involved, I believe. That’s very nice, but that’s not an immediate solution for many people in need.

Ultimately, I just want a small cottage or cabin in a snowy woodland area. I could live in a winterized shack or put my RV in a barn that doesn’t leak, or I could stay in a park, like the one I imagined, using the RV as a non-mobile domicile. I don’t want nor am I asking for a luxury apartment with all the amenities. All I need is someplace that meets my special needs. I am willing to settle for so little. Yet I feel like I am asking for the moon.

Unfortunately, I am not in an area where you see that many RVs. You only see them during the summer usually. Even if mine were roadworthy, and even if I could drive it, I couldn’t afford to drive from Upstate New York to the Arizona desert or even South Dakota, which are examples of where RVs are far less of a problem.

There are plenty of wide-open spaces. The fact is, I want to stay somewhere reasonably close to my location. My whole life is here, and there should be provisions for people in every state to find ways to make living possible for its citizens without forcing them to upend their lives.

Even if I could drive out to public lands somewhere and just “boondock” (live without a sewer or electrical hookup, relying on the RV house battery and strict water conservation), I am disabled and on the autism spectrum. Being out in the literal middle of nowhere, often with no mobile reception, would not work well for me, even though I would love the peace and solitude of the desert. That life does work for some people, and that’s wonderful.

Meanwhile, the shelter system costs taxpayers a lot of money yet has slight effectiveness. Shelters in Manhattan have been investigated for illegal activity.

People shouldn’t be languishing in shelters. The Housing First initiative has shown itself to be far more successful.

In Europe, Housing First models have proven successful. They place a homeless person into a home with the general population. But that’s not all. They also provide counseling, social workers, and support, which successfully gets people back on their feet. In turn, people become contributing members of society, which most people want.

In contrast, let’s look at what would happen if I went into the shelter system here.

Intake told me there was a long waiting time to be placed in a building similar to where my now deceased brother stayed, which was a hell hole. Worse, while on the waiting list for the hell hole, they’d take most of my Disability allotment, leaving me no way to keep my vehicle and my storage. I’d lose everything.

As a disabled person, I can only imagine how my health would further deteriorate under these circumstances. It has already deteriorated since becoming homeless, with absolutely no stability in my life.

Bottom line: The shelter system is a horrible disaster and completely outdated. It’s also a “one size fits all” approach that does not work for everyone.

All I know is that I only have a few requirements to meet my special needs. Yet there is no provision to work with me or help me in any way toward that solution. I know I am not the only one in this boat. Without innovative solutions, those of us priced out of housing will continue living this nightmare with no end in sight.

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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