UNION CITY (CBS SF) — In the Bay Area, not all the homeless are camping in doorways, asleep on the sidewalk or wandering the streets. A growing number of homeless do their best to stay invisible. These are homeless families who feel shame and fear about their situation.
But now, one family is breaking the silence.
The Frost family lives in Union City, but the place they call “home” where all six family members sleep at night is inside a Ford Taurus.
“They ask me every day, ‘Daddy, why do we have to sleep in the car?'” the father, Raymond Frost, Sr. told KPIX 5.
“I try not to cry. I put a smile on my face — get everybody in a happy mood, and I try my best,” said his wife Valarie.
The Frosts have four children: 7 year old Reggie, 5 year old Naylani, 3 year old Rodney and the baby, Raymond Junior.
They’ve been living out of their car ever since Valarie’s mom could no longer afford to house them.
“She’d love to help us, but she can’t take care of herself,” said Raymond Sr.
Raymond currently works two jobs, but the Bay Area native can’t scrap together enough money to afford rent.
These days, he’s far from alone.
Nancy George is Executive Director of the Kid’s Zone in Union City, a program that provides vital services to at-risk families.
In the past school year, she’s seen the number of homeless families double.
“This is kind of like the ultimate gentrification as we’re seeing families who don’t have high paying jobs just get pushed out of the Bay Area,” said George.
George says she has counted 100, with 20 now living out of cars.
“With rents going higher and higher every day, you don’t know who may be homeless next,” she said.
The Frosts have been on waiting lists for low-income housing for years.
“It’s all waiting lists to get on the waiting list,” said Raymond Sr.
They can’t afford to relocate to a cheaper state. Even if they could, George cautions it’s unlikely they’ll find a job.
“Most of the places that are cheaper to live do not have job opportunities for these folks,” George explained.
Valarie makes sure her kids are clean and fed, regardless of the situation. She says her husband is the real hero.
“He goes beyond to make sure we’re OK,” she said.
As for Raymond Sr., he wants what all parents want: a better life for their kids.
“This is all I have on this earth,” he said. “This is my reason to keep striving and not to give up. It’s because of my family.”
They are hoping for a better future.
“There is something to look forward to. There is better,” said Raymond Sr.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to raise money to help the family find a permanent housing situation.
It’s hard to get a true count of homeless families. Many fear disclosing their status out of fear their kids will be taken away.
In Union City, community leaders, non-profits and other agencies are now meeting to come up with creative solutions to keep these families together and in long-term housing in the communities where they belong.
Editor’s note: Those interested in helping the Frost family can email Raymond Frost at firstname.lastname@example.org.