Mountain View, CA
I’ve been a part of this community for over 20 years. I’ve worked, raised children and have volunteered in various capacities and have had a serious run of “bad luck” in what was once called the “New Economy”; the tech boom and the fortunes which came along with it. I want to provide a snapshot of one of the many RV dwellers struggling to keep roots in our amazing community.
I put my wife through school while raising our two children with an optimistic dream that with a degree in accounting we would finally be able to afford to live in my partner’s home town on our own. We were so excited and proud of our little apartment. Things went well for about five years.
I volunteered for my children’s school events, coached little league teams and was our local Cub Master for the Cub Scouts. I also discovered that my talents lie with "teaching" in special education; the “Kid Whisperer” some colleagues called me affectionately.
All in the same year, we ran into severe challenges: sibling suicide, my wife lost her job (and our health insurance), discovered she had breast cancer, and our rent increased 38%. What does a family do when these challenges come up? GoFundMe, the unofficial national safety net, helped buy us about three months until we “stabilized” again. I delivered pizza for a friend’s small business, delivered often to the same families I teach, coach and lead in Scouts. It was demeaning and difficult but it did help make ends meet. That’s when we sold family heirlooms and our “toys”; all of the hobby stuff that held any value.
The cancer treatments (chemo, radiation and a phalanx of prescriptions and many surgeries) seem to have aggravated mental health challenges in my wife. These challenges lost her job which supported our household. Threats of harm and death come from across the nation. Getting work and keeping a job seems an impossible challenge for my partner; somehow she manages t o continue to endeavor.
Had we stayed in our apartment instead of transitioning into an RV (three months before COVID) we would owe nearly $50,000 to our landlord once the eviction moratorium was lifted. We are thankful each day that we don’t have that additional dread weighing us down. I have the impossible goal of getting a teaching credential and becoming a “real” teacher, one who is compensated enough to afford a modest lifestyle in OUR community.
The outlook is grim, surely, but is no better if we were to relocate. Our roots are here. The students I first worked with over ten years ago have now graduated from high school. There’s a rising star who I helped coach as a little leaguer for several years. The shelter and relative safety provided by our RV seems to be the very best chance for us to “stabilize” again.