He Couldn't Afford a House, So He Bought an Ambulance

'Los Angeles Times' profiles one of the thousands of locals living out of their vehicles
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 12, 2024 4:30 PM CDT
Homes Cost Too Much, So He Bought an Ambulance
Stock image of ambulances.   (Getty / tfoxphoto)

Sky-high housing costs in California have forced thousands of people to live out of their vehicles. In Los Angeles County alone, the official count in 2023 was about 14,000, up 9% from the previous year. At the Los Angeles Times, Jack Flemming illustrates the issue with a profile of one such person, 30-year-old Texas transplant Cameron Gordon. The story, though, is unique in one major way—the vehicle Gordon calls home is a decommissioned ambulance he bought for $15,000 at a bankruptcy auction. (He actually got three for that price, but two were lemons.) It's like a tiny house on wheels, and it came with an unexpected bonus: This being Los Angeles, one day a director asked about renting it for a movie. That has led to Gordon's modest but main source of income—he charges up to $1,400 a day to moviemakers, and will throw in his services as a driver.

But that's just part of "Gordon's strange—and quintessentially L.A.—odyssey," writes Flemming. He managed to save up $65,000 to buy a small piece of land in Sun Valley, and the story explains how he's navigated various city rules and regulations to settle on his current unorthodox lifestyle: He parks during the day on the land, where he's planted vegetables and fruit trees (to satisfy an agricultural loophole in the municipal code) and has set up an allowed "shade structure" where he can hang out. He must leave at night (his property has no certificate of occupancy) to park and sleep (a dog park has become a favorite spot). "It's not for everyone, but it's a good life," he says. "I sleep in my car, meet up with friends for adventures, and avoid the weight of bills and finances." Read the full story. (Or read other longform recaps.)

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