Tolbert gets dressed and does her curly hair for an afternoon work meeting. Tolbert says the RV “is a stepping stone because I want housing.” She is looking for a place costing no more than one-third of her income.

In the City, Off the Map: San Franciscans Struggle to Keep Their Mobile Residences

In San Francisco, stringent and widespread parking restrictions are a fact of life. But to the hundreds of city residents who live in their vehicles, these regulations can also be an obstacle to maintaining stability and getting off the streets. Vehicle dwellers play cat-and-mouse with the government’s enforcement apparatus, violating local laws to survive outdoors.

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Tolbert le da un fuerte jale a la cuerda de su generador, que usa para prender las comodidades dentro de su RV cada día. Esto le permite usar electrodomésticos de cocina, la bomba de agua, luces y un calentador mientras recarga las baterías del vehículo por la noche. Tolbert comparte el generador con personas que viven en vehículos estacionados cerca de ella. En las calles, dijo, a las personas “no pensamos en ellos, punto.” Pero a través de la experiencia, muchos se vuelven fuertes después de ser derribados o descuidados por otros. “Te das cuenta de que vales la pena, en todas las maneras más difíciles. Y así es como es,” dijo. “Pero tú lo vales. Ustedes no saben su valor.”

En la Ciudad, Fuera del Mapa: Los Franciscanos Luchan por Mantener sus Residencias Móviles

En San Francisco, las restricciones de estacionamiento estrictas y generalizadas son una realidad. Pero para los cientos de residentes de la ciudad que viven en sus vehículos, estas regulaciones también pueden ser un obstáculo para mantener la estabilidad y salir de las calles. Los habitantes de los vehículos juegan al gato y al ratón con el gobierno, violando las leyes locales para sobrevivir al aire libre.

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On a Sunday afternoon, children play in the Gilman District in West Berkeley. Their family is part of a community of vehicle residents called Friends on Wheels, whose members have parked and lived together for two years. The community is made up of families, students, gig workers, service workers and disabled and elderly people who live in all shapes and sizes of vehicles.

No Address, No Rest: Berkeley Forces Vehicle Dwellers to Keep Rolling

In a region where the cost of living has spiraled upward in the last decade, some who find themselves without housing opt for living in vehicles. Many view it as a temporary fix — an affordable shelter or intermediate stop they hope will put them on a path to stable, permanent housing. In Berkeley, a group of vehicle dwellers joined together and created their own support system.

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Dusk falls on seven vehicular homes at Eighth and Harrison streets in Berkeley’s Gilman District. For over a year, a vehicular community called Friends on Wheels has found refuge at this intersection, living together for safety and companionship. While searching for safe parking spots and the amenities of everyday life, vehicular residents met and banded together at the Berkeley Marina. But as the community of vehicle dwellers grew, their risk of being towed and receiving further citations forced people to leave. Vehicle residents had to find another safe place to settle, and so they found a resting spot on the industrialized streets of West Berkeley.

Sin Dirección, Sin Descanso: Berkeley Obliga a los Habitantes de Vehículos a Seguir Rodando

En una región donde el costo de vida ha incrementado en la última década, algunos que se encuentran sin vivienda optan por vivir en vehículos. Muchos lo ven como una solución temporal: un refugio asequible o una parada intermedia que esperan los encaminará hacia un hogar estable y permanente.

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“Quarantine Diary” depicts Yesica Prado’s personal experience living in an RV in Berkeley. As a CatchLight Local Fellow at the San Francisco Public Press, Prado spent the past year examining the culture of vehicle living in San Francisco and Berkeley. Her reporting and photojournalism are featured in “Driving Home: Surviving the Housing Crisis,” which she produced for the San Francisco Public Press in collaboration with the Bay Area visual storytelling nonprofit CatchLight through its CatchLight Local Initiative.

‘Quarantine Diary’ Captures Experience of Living in an RV

Photojournalist Yesica Prado spent the past year examining the culture of vehicle living in San Francisco and Berkeley. Her reporting and photojournalism are featured in “Driving Home: Surviving the Housing Crisis.” Prado created “Quarantine Diary” to show her personal experience living in an RV in Berkeley.

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A vehicle home is parked in Bayview.

Photojournalist Documents Vehicle Dweller Communities While Living in RV

In the reporting series “Driving Home: Surviving the Housing Crisis,” photojournalist Yesica Prado documents life on four wheels in Berkeley and San Francisco. The project, in partnership with CatchLight Local, offers an intimate look at what it really means for home to be a vehicle in the Bay Area, whether it’s an RV with lots of space and utilities or a sedan with neither. But with housing out of reach, for many, a tent is the only other option. Prado, who was and is part of one of the vehicle dweller communities she documented, said that vehicle living comes with the daily task of avoiding parking or law enforcement and securing access to basic needs like hygiene, food and water. “People are definitely stuck in a cycle that you can’t escape.

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Coronavirus Resource Guide for Vehicle Dwellers in San Francisco and Berkeley

Photojournalist Yesica Prado assembled this resource guide as part of her ongoing project examining the culture of vehicle living in San Francisco and Berkeley. CatchLight, Dysturb, The Everyday Projects and the San Francisco Public Press collaborated to produce this guide for printed posters, which are posted where vehicle dwellers would likely see them. The aim is to improve access to locally relevant public health information as part of the Artists Against an #Infodemic Initiative.

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Guía de Recursos Sobre el Coronavirus Para Residentes de Vehículos en San Francisco y Berkeley

La fotoperiodista Yesica Prado reunió esta guía de recursos como parte de su proyecto que examina la cultura de vivir en vehículos en San Francisco y Berkeley. CatchLight, Dysturb, The Everyday Projects y San Francisco Public Press colaboraron para producir esta guía y carteles, que se publicaran donde los habitantes de vehículos puedan leerlos. El objetivo es mejorar el acceso a la información de salud pública localmente como parte de la Iniciativa de Artistas Contra una #Infodemia.

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Nelson rearranges the back of his car and recharges his phone. He sleeps on four stacked blankets in the back seat. Sometimes he folds down the seat to stretch his legs into the trunk. He has attached a solar panel to the roof to power essential electronics. “The key to the solar deal is storage,” Nelson said. “I have two batteries separate from the car, so I can run a television, a DVD player and charge up my phone. Now the next question is: How long can I run it for? I would be good for an hour or two. Anything crazy and heavy like a microwave or refrigerator is going to eat you up really quick.” But bad wiring inside his trunk has proven hazardous. One afternoon while Nelson was charging his devices, an electrical short melted the plastic of the cigarette lighter plug and filled his car with smoke. “I’m lucky I didn’t kill myself,” he said.

San Franciscans Struggle to Keep Their Mobile Residences

This photo essay accompanies the story “In the City, Off the Map: San Franciscans Struggle to Keep Their Mobile Residences,” which is part of the “Driving Home: Surviving the Housing Crisis” project.

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En medio del desorden, Nelson tiene lugares dedicados para almacenar lo esencial de todos los días. La guantera sirve como una mesita de noche que contiene cepillo de dientes, vasos, libreta de direcciones y condimentos para su próxima comida.

Los Franciscanos Luchan por Mantener sus Residencias Móviles

Este ensayo fotográfico acompaña a la historia “En la Ciudad, Fuera del Mapa: Los Franciscanos Luchan por Mantener sus Residencias Móviles,” que forma parte del proyecto “Conduciendo a Casa: Sobreviviendo la Crisis de la Vivienda” (Driving Home: Surviving the Housing Crisis).

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