People in California forced to sleep in their cars as housing is unaffordable

Income inequality in California is getting worse.

In affluent areas such as Santa Barbara, the cost of living continues to rise while wages stay stagnant, leaving residents struggling to make ends meet. Even many of those with jobs can barely afford to stay in the city they've called home for years, and more of them are now forced to live out of their cars.

"It's a kind of middle-class homelessness," writes Steve Lopez in an article on the issue for the Los Angeles Times.

One local organization taking aim at the problem is the New Beginnings Counseling Center, which runs Safe Parking, a program that matches approved clients with monitored parking spots in lots near churches, government offices and nonprofits, where they can stay overnight.

The Safe Parking program has been around since 2004 but, just in the past 18 months, it has expanded from 20 lots to 23, according to the L.A. Times. There's also a waiting list of more than 40 families.

Of the program's 150 clients, 40 percent are employed, including Marva Ericson, a certified nurse assistant currently living out of her Kia. After a series of seizures forced Ericson to quit her job, she was diagnosed with a brain tumor while taking care of her dying mother.

Although Ericson regained her health and was able to return to work, she still struggled to make ends meet. Despite working two jobs, earning between $12 and $14 an hour, she lost her apartment three months ago and has been spending nights in her car since.

Santa Barbara residents aren't the only ones forced to live out of vehicles and trying to deal with the related challenges. In San Jose, the growing number of RV dwellers have a hard time finding places to park. "I have to do whatever I have to do," Robert Ramirez, a 54-year-old resident who lives out of his RV and collects recyclables for money, told The Mercury News.

As housing prices in the Bay Area continue to rise and an increasing number of residents turn to cars and RVs as their primary residences, local officials must figure out how to support the growing population while fielding a corresponding rise in complaints about RV communities from other residents, The Mercury News reports.

When Houston-based law firm Patterson and Sheridan expanded to Silicon Valley, it opted to keep employees in Texas rather than have relocate to California. Now the lawyers commute once a month for meetings on a nine-seat, $3 million jet equipped with maple-paneled cabins and plush leather seats. It was, remarkably, the cost-effective decision.

Even with the cost of the jet, plus the $2,500 per hour cost to operate it, the firm says it can offer clients lower prices because most of the work is done in Houston, where commercial real estate is 43 percent cheaper, salaries are 52 percent lower and competition for technical talent less fierce, according to an original report in the Houston Chronicle.
The attorneys living in Houston also have a higher standard of living than they would in California.  The houses are nicer and cost less.  The building restrictions in California restrict the supply of affordable homes and drive up the price of homes that would not be acceptable to middle class families in Texas.  Add high taxes to the cost of housing and California is seeing its middle class leave for a higher standard of living elsewhere.

With more people having to opt for RV living in California  It appears that the restrictions do not allow for mobile home and RV parks to accommodate those living in them.


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