The Hidden Homelessness Crisis In California (HBO)

There is a shortage of affordable housing in every state in the country, but it’s especially bad in California — where there’s only one affordable housing unit for every five extremely low income households.

The gap is not only pushing more and more people out onto the streets—it’s also creating a new, fast-growing, and hidden class of homelessness: People who in the past would have been able to afford a room or apartment but now live in their cars by necessity.

Danielle Williams is one of them. She’s a single working mother who has been living in her van with her daughter for five years. At first, it meant sleeping in dark, scarcely populated areas, and being hassled by the police. But thanks to a program called Safe Parking — a network of parking lots equipped with porta-potties and lot monitors — she can now stay in her car overnight without worrying about her safety.

VICE News traveled to California to see how the new program is helping people like Danielle live a little more comfortably, and met with a government official who’s frustrated there aren’t longer term solutions to help the roughly 16,000 people in Los Angeles who now sleep in their cars.

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