The Alternative Housing Crisis
We are not just a geotagging platform, we are a community organization fighting for the protection of our lifestyle and conservation of outdoor spaces
Vanlife is a way of life that allows people to pursue a life of happiness instead of struggling to meet the status quo. Combine a decade of consistent and astronomical rises in housing costs with the stagnation of monthly income, and the majority of Americans find themselves struggling to meet their basic needs, let alone put happiness and adventure at the top of their priority list. Vanlife has become a viable solution for many people to take control of their lives and move away from a system that keeps them stifled by economic struggle. Millions of people across the country are thriving due to non-traditional housing, with less debt, and finding alternative income streams through remote work or starting their own businesses. Vanlife is their solution to the problems of economic struggle and societal chains. However, this movement of pursuing happiness through alternative housing is in crisis.
As the nomadic movement grows, the political climate in cities around the world is polarizing in discourse and legislation surrounding this lifestyle. The dominant narrative claims people are either “good” (i.e., living in houses/apartments that they often can’t afford), or they are “homeless” (i.e., on the streets because of poor choices, drug addiction, or mental health issues). Our stories and the voices in our nomadic community are not being represented in this public discourse. As individuals, we have inspiring stories and influential voices, but that is not enough. We need to unite to safeguard our opportunity to live life on our own terms, with respect for public spaces and the people who reside beside us.
As is happening in other cities, the mayor of San Diego is currently proposing legislation to make it illegal for people to sleep in their vehicles, aside from specific parking lots allocated for people in transition to permanent housing. Yes, homelessness is a social issue that must be addressed in San Diego, and there are people outside of our community who are causing problems, but this is not our story and we cannot be stereotyped as the problem. We are entrepreneurs, business owners, career coaches, yoga instructors, adventurers, and lovers of the environment. We are not ‘taking advantage of the kindness of the city.’ We are not doing drugs on the streets of residential neighborhoods’ or defecating in the streets and disposing of our trash wherever we please. Many of us do not live full-time in typical permanent houses, but that fact alone does not make us a problem to the city and society. As a movement, we respect the spaces and people around us and we contribute to the overall economy by starting businesses and spending money in the places we visit, just like housed people do. We are NOT homeless, our homes just move with us. We are different, but we are good.
The unfortunate truth is, laws are being created to outlaw this lifestyle, based on the narrative that we are vagrants, with no sense of responsibility. The truth is, we live happy lives in our homes on wheels, prioritizing sustainability and environmental stewardship. We work hard to be exceptional citizens, employees, entrepreneurs, family members, friends, and humans. If anything, we give ourselves more time and space to be the good humans we want to be, instead of being too busy to care. The only difference between “them” and “us” is our propensity to pursue a life that isn’t “normal,” but makes us happy.
We need to unite our voices so that our story is heard. The San Diego Mayor’s legislation presents a great opportunity to tell OUR story for what it is, rather than what is being depicted. Let’s bring our voices together and unite as a movement so that we are fairly represented. There are a few ways you can get involved in the powerful discussion surrounding this issue:
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Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org! Are you in San Diego? Can you attend meetings in person? Are you a great community organizer? If so, we want to hear from you!
Not in San Diego? No problem! We’re cataloging communities across the nation that are facing similar problems, and we want to help! So reach out to email@example.com with what’s happening in your community.
Only together, can we create the change needed to protect our right to pursue an alternative life of good and happiness. This is our chance! See you then.