FOCUS Discussion: Utahns living in vehicles


SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Currently in the state of Utah, there is no collective data on vehicle residents, that is, people who live in their car, van or their motorhome. However, local advocates who work with our homeless population say they are seeing an increasing number of people living outside of their cars. They believe some of the reasons include soaring house prices in the region and the residual impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has uprooted the livelihoods of many.

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Residents of the vehicle can come from all walks of life, spanning different age groups, origins, ethnicities, societal status, abilities, etc. However, they can become extremely difficult to follow as they move around so much and their life situations are so fluid. Some homeless people prefer to live in their car rather than a shelter or camp because of the range, privacy and protection from the elements. During the pandemic, vehicles provided a more ideal environment to isolate themselves from large gatherings and avoid the risk of infection.

Many of these vehicle residents do not have running water or electrical hookups. There are no designated areas for vehicle residents to park their cars, vans or motorhomes. Often, these people stay in an area for as long as they can before being named and end up moving to a new location. In Utah’s extreme seasons, such as peak summer with scorching heat or midwinter with freezing temperatures, vehicle residents are often vulnerable to weather-related illnesses. They are also at risk for crime, such as theft, burglary, harassment and assault.

ABC4 News recently ran a number of reports on vehicle residents over the past few months, some of whom have suffered from the heatwave without air conditioning. Others have been at the center of complaints to the city and law enforcement by residents and business owners in the area, who say they have seen an increase in drug use, crime and crime. waste. Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall’s office has said it will not impound any occupied vehicles, leaving those neighbors frustrated and calling for a better solution to address the homeless crisis in the state.

Wendy Garvin and Nathan Kazerian joined ABC4’s Rosie Nguyen on CW30 News at 7 p.m. for an IN FOCUS discussion on vehicle residents. Garvin is the executive director of Unsheltered Utah and Kazerian, who is a former resident of the vehicle and a homeless resident, is the vice president of the organization. They talked about Nathan’s experience being homeless, the variety of life situations for homeless people, how they find the residents of the vehicles, the difficulties of registering the vehicles, where these residents park, the impact of the booming housing market, how to minimize tensions between neighbors and motorists, and what can be done to provide better opportunities for this population.

To watch the full IN FOCUS discussion with Garvin and Kazerian, click on the video at the top of the article.

Watch IN FOCUS chats with ABC4’s Rosie Nguyen on weeknights on CW30 News at 7 p.m..

Rosie Nguyen is an award-winning reporter who joined the ABC4 News team as a reporter in January 2018. In September 2020, she embarked on a new journey as a presenter of CW30 News at 7pm. Although no longer in the field, she pursues her passion for social justice and community issues through the nightly “In Focus” discussions.


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