SAN MATEO (CBS SF) — One mother in San Mateo says rent is so expensive in her city all she can afford is a garage.
Nicole Jones was pregnant with her now 18-month-old daughter when she lost her job and her apartment.
Jones, who gave birth to her second child three weeks ago, now pays $1,000 a month to live in the 250-square-foot space, which includes a bathroom with a stand-up shower.
“This is pretty much all I could get,” she told CNN. Before the converted garage, she was living in a homeless shelter.
“I didn’t know much about homelessness before,” Jones said.
“Honestly, I always thought homeless people were panhandlers or people on the street that were hungry and cold and drug addicts and alcoholics — who didn’t want to do anything for themselves. I work and make decent money when I’m working. I think part of the reason why I became homeless is because finding work and daycare and transportation and everything just combined made it impossible for me to keep a roof over our head.”
In an interview with KPIX 5, Jones said she has received plenty of attention and nasty emails about her way of dealing with the lack of affordable housing after the CNN story aired.
“I like it here. For people that don’t like it, count yourselves lucky that you’re not in this garage with me. I think that it’s a home,” Jones told KPIX 5.
The bartender said she makes good money, but not enough for a bigger place in a market with a lot of competition.
“I had done a lot of searching, probably spent over $750 doing application fees trying to get into an apartment. Nobody wanted to rent to me, so this was a last resort, but a good resort,” Jones said.
She said the rent money is also keeping a roof over the homeowner’s head, by keeping the mortgage paid.
“I don’t expect a handout. I don’t expect a pity party. I’m proud of my situation. It’s not ideal, but it’s not something I’m ashamed of,” Jones said.
Jones said the real credit in this situation goes to the women’s shelter that kept her and her daughter off the streets until they found that garage.
Rents in San Mateo have skyrocketed like the rest of the Bay Area. The median rent price is $2,900 a month.