COUNTY — The program RVs for Veterans, originally created in 2013 by Hope’s Village of SLO, is now being run by local nonprofit Common Ground Worldwide.
This program helps to connect unhoused veterans and their families with local individuals who have an unwanted motorhome, trailer, or fifth wheel they’d like to pass along to someone in need. It’s a simple gift from one person to another — no money is exchanged, and no liability is incurred. The nonprofit organization functions as a “matchmaker,” facilitating a connection between unhoused veterans and locals with RVs to pass along to them. Once the connection has been made, both parties go to the DMV together to transfer title, the new owner obtains insurance, and he or she drives off with a new home on wheels. To date, 85 people have been housed through this program.
Some veterans do not qualify for assistance from the VA, and many receive benefits that aren’t enough to afford rent and living expenses here in SLO County. Some can afford a shared apartment but need to live alone due to PTSD. As a result, hundreds of Central Coast men and women who risked their lives to serve our country are now living in motels, cars, homeless shelters, and outdoors without access to basic sanitation. RVs for Veterans gives such people the opportunity for simple, decent housing and a future that may otherwise have been out of reach. It also empowers SLO County residents by providing an opportunity to help a fellow person become safely sheltered.
RVs for Veterans currently has a waiting list of 20 individuals. Each person’s situation is different — some have spouses and children, some work full-time, one is a college student, and a few are severely ill or disabled. Common Ground Worldwide maintains contact with these individuals, tracking their situations and needs while spreading the word about the program and seeking generous local community members with motorhomes or trailers (in good condition and up-to-date on their registration) to offer.
People often ask, “But where can they park?” The options are varied: Many mobile home parks have RV spaces, and numerous private clubs across the country — such as Elks, Moose, and American Legion — allow members to park indefinitely for a low monthly rate. There are also both public and private campgrounds where disabled veterans pay only half the standard fee, or less, and can stay a maximum of 60 days per year before moving on. Some military bases also offer RV parking to veterans. Common Ground Worldwide provides recipients with a list of parking options to explore, while also supporting the movement to legalize tiny-houses-on-wheels as a viable housing option that could become more available to low-income veterans and others in the future.
Common Ground Worldwide is a grassroots nonprofit organization that maintains a community garden in Paso Robles, providing fresh produce to food pantries and teaching local residents how to convert their lawns into a drought-adapted, food-producing landscape. The organization also offers support and care to those navigating difficult life circumstances such as poverty, isolation, and homelessness, and is planning to greatly expand its programs and offerings in the coming year. To learn more or volunteer, visit www.commongroundworldwide.org or contact Dori at 805-235-5547.