Local homeless attorneys find that people live in vehicles | government
OGDEN – Local homeless lawyers say more people who have lost their homes are living in RVs, trailers, cars and RVs.
Melissa Freilang and Lauren Navidomskis said Thursday that they and their colleagues have seen a surge in homelessness on wheels – but that’s only anecdotal. However, truck stop managers and sheriff’s deputies confirm that this type of homelessness is more common in Weber County.
Housing costs have skyrocketed and people have lost their jobs during the pandemic.
“The pandemic has exacerbated and exacerbated the challenges facing our vulnerable populations,” Liberang, managing director of the Weber Prosperity Center of Excellence, said via email. “Some have friends and family, RVs, cars, abandoned buildings, warehouses, etc.”
The number of unprotected people in the community – those who are not in a shelter – “has increased recently,” Freilang said, according to street outreach teams. “We see them especially in parks, cars and RVs.”
There is no current system in place specifically to keep track of how many uninhabited people are living in vehicles, she said.
Navidomskis, manager of Lantern House shelter in Ogden, said she and her colleagues had “seen a lot of people in RVs and RVs,” but few of them go to Lantern House because they have at least minimal accommodation.
The issue of the county’s vehicle homelessness recently came to the fore when the Weber County Sheriff’s Office launched an agency letter program. A company struggling with intruders, drunk people, or other perpetrators can sign a letter authorizing proxy to cite or arrest people on the property without first seeking company permission.
RV storage became common, especially at truck stops, said Lt. Cortney Ryan, and the letters allow a quicker response.
But what is being done to help this apparently rising group of people?
Freilang said they have access to food, shelter, medical care and rental assistance. The Ogden-Weber Community Action Partnership provides on-site rental assistance and referrals are available for other needs, she said.
“There are plenty of funds available for rental support for those who have been negatively impacted by COVID,” said Freilang.
She said the sheriff’s office and Ogden police force “balanced” public safety with the needs of the homeless population.
Ogden Police Department has a pilot program with a homeless services attorney who works with the community’s police force and handles case management, Freang said.
In Los Angeles and other major cities, authorities have juggled policies prohibiting people from living in vehicles other than designated lots, according to the Associated Press. But the tickets are often overcrowded.
Ogden officials have also had situations where camps were overcrowded. The authorities closed a camp near the lantern house with around 100 residents last winter. According to earlier reports, the action led to a protest at the Ogden Municipal Building.