Home was a van for eight months for Lowcountry woman

Home was a van for eight months for Lowcountry woman

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Some 500 people are looking for a place to sleep tonight.

They are the homeless who try to stay hidden, sleeping in the woods, tents, or their cars.

They live in areas where we shop and do business every day.

While community leaders are trying to find a solution, we talked to a woman who for months, has been a part of what she calls the Lowcountry's "invisible society."

She agreed to talk to us if we did not use her name because she has a child who goes to an area high school.

Opening the door to a dark grey van, she showed us the back seat where her teenager sleeps for the night.

"I sleep sitting up many nights," she explained, so her child is rested for school.

His dad is sick, so she works as much as she can.

"It's very uncomfortable and awkward, but we somehow get through it," she continued.

Sometimes the family stays at a hotel when she makes enough money to stay for a night or two.

When asked how long the family has been living in the van, she replied, "Going on eight months, now."

Stacey Denaux of One80 Place works with the homeless.

She said low wages here and lack of affordable housing have created the perfect storm.

"We're building these amazing houses but people who need the housing the most are not working in jobs that can afford to live in the housing," Denaux explained.

The homeless mom said, "The rent is so high here, and it would take us months to save for both security deposit and first month's rent."

The van became their solution.

The mother said she has met others in the same circumstances, living in the woods and area parking lots, a hidden society.

"They don't want people to know, especially if they have kids," the mother explained.

Denaux wants them to know, being homeless isn't illegal.

"Becoming homeless does not mean your child is in danger or DSS is going to automatically get involved being homeless is not child neglect," Denaux continued.

Keeping families together, she said, is the goal.

She encourages people to get help. A place to live can make a difference.

The mother agreed.

She continued, "I can find more hours of work because I won't have to worry about my son and husband on the streets all day."

She said having a home would give them a better life.

She is no longer homeless.

After months of living in the van, the family found a place to live just before Hurricane Matthew roared through the Lowcountry.

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