Quarantine Diary by Yesica Prado

In the short film Quarantine Diary, Yesica Prado has documented her personal experience living in an RV in Berkeley. Prado, a multimedia journalist, has spent the past year examining the culture of vehicle living in San Francisco and Berkeley. Her reporting and photojournalism are featured in “Driving Home: Surviving the Housing Crisis,” which she produced for the San Francisco Public Press in collaboration with the Bay Area visual storytelling nonprofit CatchLight through its CatchLight Local Initiative.

Prado, who has a master’s in journalism from the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, is a first-generation Mexican immigrant from Nezahualcoyotl, Mexico, who immigrated to the United States with her family when she was 9.

Thousands of Bay Area residents are “vehicularly housed,” living in cars, vans, RVs and campers. They, like many others in search of alternative shelter, are victims of a decades-long affordable housing crisis affecting the whole region. Prado, who has a unique longstanding connection with communities of vehicle dwellers, takes us behind the scenes to tell the stories of people finding ways to protect themselves and their friends in a sometimes-hostile political climate that restricts their movement and makes daily life more difficult.

The Driving Home project includes coronavirus resource guides for vehicle dwellers in San Francisco and Berkeley in English and Spanish; and an interview with Yesica Prado discussing the project on “Civic,” SF Public Press’s daily news and public affairs podcast and radio program.

Berkeleyside is republishing this story with permission from San Francisco Public Press. (Featured photo by Yesica Prado.)

33 replies on “‘Quarantine Diary’ captures the experience of living in an RV in Berkeley”

  1. Lets more focus on theo the 7 year old homeless boy in berkeley yet city protrays no kids are homeless

  2. So if i go to the hills find home i like i can expect occupants to let me live there or they are cruel. We arent forced to live in certain city she could go to Vallejo cheaper yet not as many freebies. I feed some of the homeless on shattuck i should have right to a,b,c,d because im being so nice in cruel world lol. If only the world worked like a 6 year olds brain. I would have loved to go to UCB but knew financially not do able and wouldnt pay off. Would love to have masters but cost vs pay off doesnt compare.

  3. I work a job and commute to support myself. Maybe I should get a second job and a second commute to support Yesica because she didn’t want to do those things. And that support needs to include housing in the location of her personal preference, cost be damned? Do I have that right?

  4. Let’s be clear here. This person has consciously quit their job, the rent, and the commute, to take up living in an RV. This is after the incredible opportunity of earning a graduate degree from a top university, of which much of the tuition is highly subsidized by the taxpayers. This person is clearly capable of making a living if they wanted to actually work hard. why is it they deserve to be able to live for free just because they do not want to “work a job and commute?” this is exactly the type of entitled behavior that the city of Berkeley should have zero tolerance for.

    Every time I walk by where these RVs are parked, I am reminded that we have a special class of citizens in this city that do not have to work, pay rent, pay utilities , but still get all the great things that the taxpayers are funding for them. As you can see at least based on the author of the video, many have the skills to support themselves in any economy, but she’s not to for “lifestyle” reasons

  5. untrue as tents have been removed and stuff taken on shattuck as well as near peoples park.people have video of that happening and folks have been told the city manager is behind it all.the white public works front loading dump truck seen scurrying around from site to site contains remnants of peoples lives taken by the city.this must stop.

  6. Before enrolling in the school of journalism, one might ask oneself what outcomes graduates have. Pay range? Where do they live? Pretty sure the answers would have predicted this outcome. According to one site I looked at, average pay in the region is $50k. Becoming a plumber might have been a more fiscally rewarding choice.

  7. Nearly every RV down there on Harrison has a bucket under the sewage clean out. The dumpster at my friend’s shop has been broken into twice the last couple of years and filled with bags of sewage. I guess that’s better than straight into the storm drains.

  8. Replace “I flew to” with “I were in” and the story is the same. There are no freebies. Develop skills and get to work. No one should be surprised that “multimedia journalism” isn’t a big money maker.

  9. Why are Yesica Prado and her friends in the Bay Area? They don’t appear to have jobs that require them to be in this area so why do they stay? They could easily go somewhere cheaper where they could live in a legal RV camp and have access to power hookups and dump stations so why stay here? And why is it the responsibility of Berkeley homeowners to provide for them?

  10. I have a job that pays enough to make rent here without breaking laws and relying on handouts. That’s what I have to say about myself.

    So back to your argument. The third world is full of educated people who can’t afford to live here. This country is full of highly educated people that can’t afford to live here. And they don’t. What makes Yesica such a precious exception? Cruelty is requiring everybody to subsidize one special individual at the expense of many people in need who get nothing.

    (This comment has been moderated)

  11. People have gone where they can afford to live, well, forever. Until this city council seemingly codified the right to squat in squalor until the community so tires of the mess that they rent you a place to live where you want. Do I have that right?

  12. Division is man-made. Division is designed to keep you powerless. Division is designed to keep you fighting each other. Division is designed to keep you enslaved. The Narrative Has You. No one person is above another. Unity is Strength. Unity is Love. Unity is Humanity. Trust yourself. Think for yourself. Only when good people [collectively] come together will positive change occur…thank you Berkeleyside for sharing this video..

  13. Your are so cruel. She has a Master’s in Journalism from UC Berkeley but still cannot afford housing. She is trying to make her way in this cruel world and remains a friend to others. What can you say about yourself.?

  14. They never were sweeping before the pandemic. There’s an RV near me that hasn’t moved in a year.

  15. The Bay area already has RV parks with proper sewage, water, and electrical hookups. But, you have to pay the going rate. In this story, the author got a graduate degree from Cal and then quit “the job, rent, and long commute.” That’s fine, but why should Berkeley allow her to park her RV on the streets for free for the indefinite future. There are obvious reasons it’s against the law. The story also doesn’t mention what she does with her garbage and sewage. She probably couldn’t get away with this in Orinda or Albany.

  16. If I didn’t have a job or a job that generates only $5/hr and I flew to Kauai, I might then be living in a tent there on public land. It would be a pain. I’d be hungry, I’d be at the mercy of handouts, and I’d probably be weary of getting chased away.

    Would I be faulting the locals for that? Would I consider it their fault that you can’t live off $40 day on their beautiful but expensive island? Would I assume they are obliged to feed and house me just because I happen to have no marketable skills, but still like living on their island?

    What would my simplest course of action be to regain authority over my own life and wellbeing? Getting off of Kauai and either moving to a cheap place, or else getting an education (so as to one day hopefully make more than $5/hr) would be among the two most immediate actions. It’s really just common sense. But the solutions obviously lie with me. If I had a drug problem or psychological issues, I would need to get help via PH authorities, but that really has nothing to do with the fact that I simply cannot afford living in such an expensive place and trying to force it by squatting and begging leads only to misery.

  17. No political support? What are you talking about, Yesica? This is Berkeley. You RV dwellers have more political support here than probably any other town in this country. Tax paying citizens are required to tolerate your squatting and as thanks their tax Dollars are used to subsidize your lifestyle. You’re welcome.

  18. Im thinking of getting rv live out of that tired of paying thousands in rent pge etc……Since we all have a right to. Great story. And let me point out irony of residents in homes getting ticketed/warning for Not moving car after 72 hours

  19. Does she cover the illegal human waste dumping and meth fumes that waft from several of them?

  20. The state and federal government should be operating government subsidized RV parks for people that need them. They need proper sewage, water and electric hook ups. Dumping sewage on the street, and scavenging for water and power is not right.

  21. “Prado, who has a major in journalism from the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism…” Do you mean “Masters” degree?

  22. right on,yesica.keep wakin’ up the asleep haves to the plight of have nots.and tell the city manager to call off the sweeps of all unhoused people.

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