Join Date: May 2022
New Member - relative of a hospitalized disabled van owner
We are new to the forum and are amazed how the internet enables people to connect with common interest - in this case disabled RV'ers.
This is a sad story but increasingly a part of life as America's homeless population grows.
We are a bit different than the usual new member because we are neither disabled nor RV'ers. We joined because our disabled cousin was to move into an RV - a nicely converted 23' van where we added a Ricon Series K wheelchair ramp. Unfortunately, he ended up in the hospital after we bought him the RV, but before he could move in. So we are what might be called a "third-party disabled RV'er" except while the disabled part is accurate, the RV part failed to take effect.
Our cousin has had a rough life, including taking his family in a converted school bus to a new life in Costa Rica when they were attacked by rebels in El Salvador and his partner was killed. Her parents took his baby and he returned to the US a shattered man. He always seemed to choose the hard road, and we feared for his future as an ageing baby boomer.
When the WW-II generation resumed civilian life, many took advantage of the GI Bill of Rights to get a government-paid education, after which they walked into a good job, got married, bought a new home on a GI mortgage, and enjoyed a stable life - indeed a golden era for what became the majority in America for a time - the middle class. Yes, before someone chimes in, it was limited to white people, but for that majority of all Americans, it was an era of prosperity and peace that lasted for several generations.
However, they made too many children at the same time creating the Baby Boom. Boomers found themselves constantly stressing systems not set up for the numbers competing for slots.
Compared to their parents childhood - growing up in the Great Depression - these were first-world problems, but never-the-less, it was a constant game of musical chairs - more people competing for the same fixed amount of resources.
When boomers started school, classrooms burst at the seams - too many children, not enough desks and chairs. When they joined the workforce there were too many of them competing for the same jobs. Same thing happened when it came time to buy a home. Each stage of their lives became a media story. As teenagers they revolted against the mores of their parents with free love, drugs, and then protests against racism and the Vietnam war. Then it was young adulthood, parenthood and now it is the aches and pains of eldership.
As in the classroom, there are not enough affordable homes for these old boomers. The homeless explosion includes teens and young people but the elderly homeless rates grew from 23% in 2007 to 34% ten years later. They especially migrate to warmer climates like California where San Diego, LA and San Francisco find their systems overwhelmed. Over half of the homeless seniors have a physical disability.
Our cousin is one of them. His leg was amputated when it developed gangrene, and he was no longer able to live independently in an RV on land he bought for next to nothing in the high desert. For a while, he rented a room in LA but the landlord beat him up and he ended up sleeping in his car on the streets of LA. Last winter, a friend emailed our cousins brother - who lives overseas - to say our cousin was living in a broken down car where vandals recently broke out the windows and the cousin was at risk of dying. A call was put out to extended family members who were able to buy a converted camper van off Craigslist.
While living on the street is not a great option, the van had a heater and was fully converted and furnished by the seller, who clearly knew what he was doing. It had originally been a retirement home van with a wheelchair lift, but the guy who converted it removed it. So we found someone selling a lift and had it installed. The guy selling the lift - apparently Ricon is a very good brand - was asking real money, but when he heard the story he gave it free, so the only cost was having someone install it.
But before it could be used, cousin broke his hip and ended up in the hospital where the prognosis is not looking good. Thankfully, while there is no support for homeless on the street, medical services are provided and the hospital staff have been great. But overall, it is another sad story in a nation that has too many sad stories.
Our cousin is lucky in the sense he has a few people who care about him, who bring him food in the hospital and a cell phone when his gets stolen so he has a connection to others. The hospital staff is trying to get him on government support, but this is complicated by his lack of documentation and disorientation. But our cousin does have friends and family who, while facing their own challenges, do exist and can tell his story. Most of those living on the streets do not. Either they have no family or friends outside of their fellow street people, or they have burned the bridges. It does not take long to break down as ones shattered behavior becomes alienating to those who once loved one.
For those of us born in the golden era, it is sad to see that era passing. Those of us who are now parents / grandparents, grew up in a time when every year was better than the previous. But now it seems we live in a time when it seems to be going the other way. What world are we leaving to future generations?
The optimistic future is one where technology will save us... that robotics will enable disabled to walk, that our comfortable lives will be possible without polluting the planet or relying on an exploited overseas work force. The pessimistic future need not be repeated here - just read any news channel, be it red or blue, to hear of impending doom.
Anyway, that's us... [moderator edit], it is listed for sale in the classified section (# 20445), if anyone has a need and wants to help the family raise some cash, it would be good to see it back on the road giving someone freedom regardless of disability.