Tim’s Trailer: Special funding helps county fill gaps to prevent homelessness

Published Aug. 15, 2019

A roof so rotted that rain poured right through. The air conditioning and stove broken. No hot water for at least five years. 

The trailer where Tim had lived in Roseville for many years was in such poor shape that it most likely wouldn’t make it through another winter season. Fiercely independent, Tim had tried to make do with buckets to catch the rain, and pieces of plywood holding things together. But the aging trailer was rapidly failing, and the elderly man was already living paycheck to paycheck on disability, unable to save enough money to purchase a new one or afford market rent on an apartment. 

“He would have definitely been at significant risk for homelessness,” said Michael Henderson, Tim’s case worker at Placer County’s Adult System of Care for nearly a decade. 

Michael brought back photos of the crumbling trailer to his boss, along with an idea: Would it be possible to find Tim a new trailer? 

In the last year, for the first time, the county received $307,000 in funding from the California Department of Health Care Services’ Homeless Mentally Ill Outreach and Treatment Program. These one-time funds are intended to fill gaps for people with mental health conditions who are homeless or at-risk of homelessness — gaps that aren’t already covered by treatment programs, like paying for car repairs, utility bills and bus passes. And on this occasion, after a lot of effort from county employees and local businesses, a used trailer in fantastic shape. Costing just shy of $7,000, the trailer would keep Tim housed for years. 

“Keeping people housed is actually the best way to resolve the homeless issue,” said Kathie Denton, a program manager with the county. Homeless prevention efforts, she said, curb the flow of newly-homeless people while allowing the county to focus other intensive efforts on the existing homeless population, tackling the problem from both sides. 

Trailers are an economical housing option for people like Tim on a limited income, and one of many opportunities the county is exploring. Rental space for a trailer is significantly more affordable than an apartment or even shared housing. In his new trailer, Tim will hopefully be able to remain self-sufficient for years to come. 

On a recent Friday, a technician from RV Doctor George rolled Tim’s old trailer off of its pad and took it away. Just a few hours later, the new trailer arrived and Tim settled into his new digs. The trailer has an extra 6 feet, enough room to fit a queen bed for Tim and his little dog Tiger — plus a working shower, stove, central air, running water and more. 

“I’m feeling so excited and so grateful that a guy that deserves a helping hand is getting it,” said Tim’s sister Mary. 

“It’s pretty much saved my life,” Tim said.