'I've got a home': It's a '95 Dodge Caravan


A report by FOX 9 shines a light on a slice of Minnesota's homeless population who live in vehicles often parked overnight at highway rest stops.

The station says a tip alerting them to a number of homeless people at a rest stop in Maple Grove led them to Richard, a 74-year-old who tells the station he's been living out of Dodge Caravan for 10 years.

Richard, who did not provide his last name, confirmed to FOX that a number of regulars spend the night in their cars at the Elm Creek rest stop. He said they include a young man who drives his Cadillac to a job each morning and is saving his earnings in hopes he can soon afford a rent.

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Rest stops are one of the few locations where Minnesotans are legally permitted to sleep in their cars.

During the grip of the recession, the number of people living at rest stops led the Minnesota Department of Transportation to consider stricter limits on the time people are allowed to stay there.

The Star Tribune in 2010 visited a rest stop where the regulars included a man living in his car who said he worked a full-time job repairing transmissions. The newspaper reported state Rep. Frank Hornstein, DFL-Minneapolis, helped convince MnDOT to drop its proposal to tighten the limits.

The website CityLab.com, which is affiliated with The Atlantic, reported last year that in 2010 more than 100 people were living at a rest stop near Portland, Oregon. The article described how regulars at the Baldock Rest Area coordinated community meals and trips to a nearby truck stop for food. One man who had been living there 17 years came to consider himself the mayor of Baldock, CityLab says.

Richard tells FOX he doesn't consider himself homeless. "I don't want a place to live," he says. "I got one."

He acknowledges Minnesota winters are becoming tiresome, though, and suggests he might point the Caravan southward when the new one arrives.

Other residents of their vehicles are hoping for a better place to live.

Until they find it, some Minnesotans don't want to evict them from rest areas. An attendant at one rest stop told the Star Tribune for its 2010 story:

"Most of them just as soon don't want to be a pain in the neck and don't want to stand out. If they don't cause problems, I don't care. You have to have a little compassion."

FOX says an estimated 10 percent of America's homeless population is thought to be living in vehicles.

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