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Life on wheels: Rising costs force more people into permanent RV living

The City of Spokane is getting more complaints about parked cars and RVs. These are some of the people who call those vehicles home.

SPOKANE, Wash. — Posted up somewhere in Spokane, you can find Chris Bill, his girlfriend, and their RV.

The booming population in the Inland Northwest has led to increased housing prices. Some families, struggling to keep up with the costs, are turning to RVs as a last resort.

“My RV. This is my place of living,” Chris told us. “Hopefully, we’re not in this situation for long.”

After losing their jobs and falling behind on rent, the couple has now spent the last month living out of the RV. Chris said it’s not ideal but it’s better than nothing.

“There’s just not too many places or options,” he said. “It can be difficult, disappointing. But [we’re] goal oriented. We’ll be back there, back on our feet, in no time.”

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For Chris, living in the RV is a temporary setback, but for others it can be a step up.

“It’s better than freezing our butts off,” Melissa said when we first met her.

Melissa has been homeless for the past 11 years. She said she “just got tired of paying bills,” but once she ended up on the streets, getting back inside seemed impossible.

"You have to have first month's rent, and then you have to have a deposit, and then you have to have that movers fee. Then after that you have to also be able to make the qualifications, and I don't," Melissa said.

Melissa is grateful to have the RV but it makes it more difficult to save money for a more permanent place to live. Melissa has to spend money to keep the RV running, so she can move it when she gets flagged by traffic enforcement or risk losing the place she calls home.

“I already had it impounded once,” Melissa said. “I just had to go do laundry. I get back and it’s gone.”

The City of Spokane said the volume of complaints about abandoned cars and RVs has gone up.

When someone calls to report a vehicle, the city must figure out if it is truly abandoned, the owner is breaking a rule, or if someone is living in it. That means even if the RV is a home, the person living there needs to follow 24-hour stay rules, no-parking rules, and registration rules.

“The objective is to keep the occupant in the vehicle and to make sure it's safe for everybody," Brian Coddington, City of Spokane Spokesperson said.

WATCH MORE: Is Spokane's hot housing market slowing down?

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