What is it about?

Homelessness continues to grow and to affect the lives of an increasingly diverse group of individuals. Many scholars have studied people living in homeless shelters and outdoors in tents. An overlooked population is the growing number of the unhoused living in vehicles. We draw on data from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority’s Homeless Demographic Survey to understand the characteristics of people living in vehicles and the extent to which they differ from the nonvehicular unhoused population. Compared to those living in tents, in makeshift shelters, and in public spaces, people living in vehicles are more likely to be women and to live in larger households with children, and are less likely to be chronically unhoused.

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Why is it important?

These findings will help effectively target policies and services. Safe parking programs can provide temporary relief to those living in vehicles and, if done well, the interventions necessary to transition into permanent housing.


We produced descriptive statistics about a growing segment of Los Angeles' unhoused population: people living in vehicles (i.e., RVs, campers, vans, cars). Compared to people living in public spaces (i.e., tents, encampments), people living in vehicles are more likely to be women, live in households with children, and less likely to be chronically unhoused. We recommend tailoring services and housing opportunities based on the different demographic makeup of this population and expanding safe parking lots for families seeking safer, more secure overnight locations to sleep.

Christopher Giamarino

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Who Lives in Vehicles and Why? Understanding Vehicular Homelessness in Los Angeles, Housing Policy Debate, September 2022, Taylor & Francis,
DOI: 10.1080/10511482.2022.2117990.
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