“Homeless” RV-ers

Well, this is an interesting topic.  It has been around for awhile but has piqued my interest again lately mostly because my blog feels sort of “homeless” right now.

Since I arrived home from my last camping trip, I have been to the bank and the grocery store and the gas station and the hardware store, etc.  I’ve been home a few days, doing laundry and paying bills … and messing around online as usual.  An interesting topic has been coming up online on a number of websites, so I thought I’d mention it here in my blog too.

I’ve been reading reports about the “homeless problem” of people who live in RVs … either motorhomes or trailers or converted vans or pickups with slide-in campers or some folks who live in their cars or in tents.  Some parts of the US government are apparently calling all people who live this way “homeless” and are taking steps against them, proposing legislation that would apply to ALL full-time RVers as if they are “homeless” people.  There is a move afoot to adopt legislation or regulations about full-time RVers who are staying on federal land which would treat them differently than part-time “vacationing” RVers are treated.

I have excellent friends (two separate friends) who each live full-time in a travel trailer.  They don’t own or rent a sticks-and-bricks home, but they are certainly not homeless.  I have friends who travel for several months at a time each year in their RV/trailer … they are not homeless.  These people have chosen to live in their RV/trailer/tent/van/car … they have chosen to make these options their home.

There are thousands of people in the USA just like my friends whose home is their RV … they are not “homeless”.  Online estimates put the number of full-time RVs in the USA at somewhere between 250,000 and 350,000, which does not include temporary RV housing for emergency shelters such as after hurricanes but only people who truly live in an RV/trailer.  Multiply that times 2 (on average) for the number of humans living in each RV and you get 500,00 to 700,000 people.  When you add the number of part-time RVers (like me) to that … well … makes your head swim, doesn’t it?  Or makes you want to open an RV dealership or maintenance/repair facility and make money off these folks. 🙂

Here’s a news report of a woman in Seattle who has chosen to live in a camper and who is getting ticketed because of it:  https://komonews.com/news/local/seattle-considers-controversial-plan-to-allow-homeless-rv-campers-to-park-anywhere.  People who own real estate can park their RV on the street for free … I guess the revenue from property taxes is what makes the difference in the minds of our government officials.  The current and/or proposed Seattle ordinances would label all people “homeless” if they have chosen to have an RV as their home.  But being “homeless” sets in motion a whole different set of laws and regulations that apply only to them and not to other people, even when these folks are not “homeless”.

There are many sides to these arguments and much to consider about these issues.  It just seems to many of us that lumping everyone together and passing legislation based on the worst behavior of a small percentage isn’t really the best way to go.

The concern is appropriately about garbage, noise, unsanitary personal practices, security, and damage to the environment.  I would think appropriate language could be used to address the small percentage of people who live in RVs who are doing the things we don’t want them to do.

There are a great number of online organizations for full-time RVers.  If you live in an RV of whatever nature, you might want to check out these resources and learn about your choices and options.  Also, check with your local government organizations to learn about local laws/regulations, and to make sure they meet you and understand you are A-OK and a good citizen!  Here are a few excellent online organizations and resources:




Breaking Myths of Full-Time RV Travel

Full-time RVing

It’s a mis-guided perception that people who live full-time in an RV/trailer/car/tent are derelicts and drug addicts and are “homeless” and that the US government and state/local government need to pass laws to have all of them arrested and/or thrown off of all federal/state/local land.  I have read that some federal land has been shut down to ALL use because of the violations of a few individuals.  The current USA federal administration has cut the budget (and staffing) to a number of federal land resources, so that affects the picture too, but let’s not blame all full-time RVers for the sins of a few.  There are PART-time RVers out there who are guilty of bad behavior too.

Some RVers are problems, either with their noise or with garbage or wildfire risk.  Of the two sets of folks I’ve found like that while camping these past two years, one group was camping part-time and one was a full-time camper.  Of the hundreds and thousands of other folks out there with me, none have been any problem at all.

I know people who live on boats.  I know people who travel full-time.  They don’t live in any one spot or any one structure on land ever.  Yet none of these people are homeless.  Let’s be careful how we label people, ok?  Let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water, as they say.  Let’s deal with the problem of people who create the problem, and not falsely accuse others of creating the problems simply by a label that’s misplaced.

Ok, that’s my exposé for the day.  🙂

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9 Responses to “Homeless” RV-ers

  1. Excellent post about a serious problem. RVers will either learn to organize and form advocacy groups or they will be rubbed out, except for short vacation trips.

    • Ann says:

      Hi kaBLOOnie Boonster. So many RVers/campers are so darned independent … maybe we have to be in order to feel comfortable with the way we live even if it’s part-time. And yet there are more and more of us out here. Maybe one or more of those large groups that meet annually (like Quartzsite) will pick up on this issue and do some organizing.

  2. GingerD says:

    I agree with you, Ann, deal with the ones that are causing the problems.

  3. Sondra says:

    If they were living in Million Dollar Yachts or Super Star Tour Buses, not one word would be said about it. People must organize to oppose any legislation that limits our FREEDOMS, freedom to live the way we chose!

    • Ann says:

      Absolutely. The huge majority of us are responsible about having as little impact as possible, on the environment and on our neighbors. Seems to me there could be a three-strikes-you’re-out rule at state parks … at least that much. That would affect a minuscule number of campers (the ones who just don’t get it, or don’t want to get it) and allow the rest of us a bit of peace.

  4. robin says:

    Mark and I treasure the adventure and experience of exploring the near and far world around us while towing our trailer. You never know what new friend you will meet, or what sights will be around the next corner. Your blog is proof positive of that! It makes me all the more determined to get out there and make the most of it. Time and freedom and good health seem to come with expiry dates :-0

    • Ann says:

      Oh you say that so well, Robin. New sights and new friends indeed. 🙂 Those expiry dates can be problematic. Our trailers come with decals that explain physical things about the trailers … credit cards come with expiry dates printed right on them … what would be the problem then with each human having a decal on the back of our left shoulder that has our expiry date on it? On the other hand, then where would the adventure be and the determination to get out there and make the most of our time and health? … as you say so well. The future can’t be known … let’s make the most of what we have and enjoy it.

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