Silicon Valley single mom lives in one-car garage for $1,000 a month

Silicon Valley single mom lives in one-car garage for $1,000 a month
·Homes Editor

The housing crunch is so bad in Silicon Valley that Nicole Jones, a single 29-year-old with a toddler and another baby on the way, paid $1,000 a month to live in a single-car garage in San Mateo.

And she felt lucky.

CNN highlighted her story recently in the child poverty installment of its Change the List project, a series focused on trying to help places rise from the bottom of various misery lists (worst rape rate, most endangered river, most unequal place).

Click image for slideshow.
Click image for slideshow.

Jones was raising her little girl — 18 months old when CNN visited — in a converted garage space with a tiny bathroom, including "a stand-up shower that's way too small." The Daily Mail estimated its size at 250 square feet, but it looks like it may be even smaller.

"My living room, kitchen, bedroom, dining room — this is everything," she told CNN. Her "kitchen" was a mini-fridge with a small microwave on top, and a toaster oven atop that, used for storage when not used for toasting. Under the television smoldered a fake fireplace.

Until she found the garage, she lived in a shelter.

"I didn't know much about homelessness before this," she said. "Honestly, I always thought that homeless people were panhandlers, people on the street that were hungry and cold, and were drug addicts and alcoholics and — didn't want to do anything for themselves. I work, and make decent money when I'm working."

But she lost her job when she was pregnant with her daughter, and that meant she lost her apartment, too.

"I think part of the reason why I became homeless is because finding work, and day care, and transportation, and everything, it just kind of combined, made it impossible for me to keep a roof over our head."

Silicon Valley and the Bay Area have been experiencing a skyrocketing rental market that's rapidly pricing out the working class. The median rent in San Mateo is triple what Jones is paying, Zillow says: about $36,000 a year, CNN notes. And although Silicon Valley is one of the richest areas of the country, 1 child in 3 is at risk of hunger there.

"Did I think homelessness would happen to me? No," she told CNN. "Am I glad that it happened to me? Yes. It did wonders. I think that you have to — or at least I have to — know that this is my life. This isn't just a story that I tell. This is really happening to me. And I just don't want it to happen again.

"I don't want things to get worse than they already are. I barely just got into this garage, and I'm so happy to have it."

At the time of CNN's visit around the holidays, Jones was pregnant. Her son was due in early February. Yahoo Homes has left a message with her and with CNN, and we'll update this post if we hear back.

Click here or on an image for a slideshow of Nicole Jones' $1,000-a-month garage home.

Also on Yahoo Homes:

States where the middle class is shrinking fastest
After the panic: How one New Yorker lives happily in 90 square feet
'Vandog Traveller' converted a van to a home and roams Europe in it

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