07/04/2022

On Peninsula and in South Bay, RVs Have Become Symbol of Homelessness

On El Camino Real this year, right alongside Stanford University, RVs and trailers have been parked bumper to bumper.

Some recreational vehicles look worn down; others are set on blocks. This is in Palo Alto, where the median home value is $2.5 million.

“Be careful. Watch your step coming in,” said Angela Anderson-Williams, as she showed me around her RV. “This door is messed up, so you have to climb in this way.”

She is 50 years old and works two jobs: one at a restaurant and another doing home care for an elderly man. She’s also back in college two days a week to try to get into real estate.

Anderson-Williams raised her kids in nearby Burlingame, but last year she had a falling out with her landlord and couldn’t find anyone willing to take a Section 8 voucher. So now she lives in an RV. Her adult son, Malik, lives in the one next door, and her two daughters are living with their godparents in Burlingame until they finish school.

In San Francisco and Oakland, tents are a symbol of the homeless problem. But in the Peninsula and South Bay, from Palo Alto to Mountain View to Gilroy, RVs have become that symbol.

“It’s kind of really sad that those people who work to keep the Silicon Valley going can’t even afford to live here,” Anderson-Williams said.

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