Bay Area cities face growing crisis as RVs become homes of last resort

December 18, 2017

Portrait: RV resident Robert Ramirez, 54, has been living in his RV for about six months. Ramirez supports himself by collecting recyclable materials and also gets government assistance. He wishes he could park his trailer in a RV park for more stability in his life but he can't afford it. (Dai Sugano/Bay Area News Group)

Robert Ramirez lives in an old RV, parked curbside in an industrial section of San Jose.

He knows one day soon he’ll get that knock on his door. Police will politely ask him to relocate. Neither party will be happy, Ramirez said, but he’ll agree to move along.

It’s happened before, and he expects it will happen again — no matter how hard he tries to be a good neighbor and keep his vehicle and sidewalk clean. The 54-year-old lives on public assistance and collecting recyclables. “I have to do whatever I have to do,” he said.

Bay Area cities are coming to realize what Ramirez already knows — parking tickets won’t solve the problem of finding a place to live. From Oakland to San Jose, officials are struggling to cope with a growing influx of RV dwellers seeking a safe, permanent place for the only homes they can afford.

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