Two Miles From Facebook's Headquarters, Working Poor Live In Trailers

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"The working poor are spilling into Bay Area streets for lack of safe, affordable shelter," report two Silicon Valley newspapers describing a "pop-up neighborhood" that's now banding together, "a small community of blue collar RV dwellers...fighting for the only place they can call home." The beautifully-illustrated article begins with an interview with a grey-haired woman named Lisa Cosey-Steven: [D]espite steady work and little debt, she trudges back and forth to the office every day from a dark RV trailer, packed floor to ceiling with bags of clothes, pet supplies for her seven dogs, thriller novels and food. Cosey-Stevens, 63, has been parked on the shoulder of Bay Road in East Palo Alto, just about two miles from Facebook headquarters and some of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the country, since June. "No one knows how badly I want out of this," she said during an interview in her trailer. "It's depressing to live like this...." She's part of an unplanned and impromptu RV park, about 80 people pushed out of apartments and into trailers and the edge of homelessness... Their neighborhood of about 50 RVs lines the eastern end of Bay Road and Tara Street, next to a stretch of salvage yards, warehouses and empty lots guarded by chain link fence. It's just off a thoroughfare for local tech employees and sits adjacent to the site of a new, multi-million dollar youth education center, Epacenter Arts. Several of the aging RVs have large banners draped over the sides, making pleas to the big employers in the area: "SOS -- Facebook, Sobrato, Amazon, Google." The [RV Families Association of East Palo Alto] has a grand vision for East Palo Alto, a city steeped in activism and landlord-tenant disputes: to get a few acres donated by a major tech company to build an RV park with security, facilities and regular, affordable rent for low-income workers. But first, they're fighting City Hall to keep their homes. A proposed ordinance working its way through city government would ban most RVs from overnight parking on city streets. "It's not like they're trying to be a nuisance to the city," says the mayor of East Palo Alto. "It's a survival thing. It's a strategy, a tactic to survive for a while." "We are the working homeless," says a 57-year-old upholsterer and Navy veteran "who moved into his RV after his rent in East Palo Alto doubled to $4,000 a month." Another family lost their Redwood City apartment when their landlord increased the rent from $1,300 to $2,800 a month.

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