Friday, October 31, 2014     Volume: 29, Issue: 14
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The Homeless Project

At New Times, we believe that homelessness is not a problem that can be attacked with money or plans. When we think of homelessness, we don't think of statistics; we think of people. We think of people who've had problems in their lives, and they all have a story to tell. We believe that common sense is the only way we'll ever come close to ending homelessness. This is our common-sense approach, and these are their stories.

Barbara Walker

As Barbara Walker tells it, she’s got it a lot better than many of her homeless friends in San Luis Obispo County. In fact, Walker said, she’s technically not even homeless.

Walker has a motor home, which she shares with her husband and their trusty canine, Max. She has her health, and she has a remarkable network of friends. Yet things are still hard on the couple, she said, and getting harder all the time.

Walker, 55, departed from her hometown of Taft, roughly 30 miles south of Bakersfield, a little more than five years ago, and left behind a “bad scene” of people, as well as her addiction to painkillers.

“It just got too rough out there,” Walker said.

After a short stay in San Diego, she moved to San Luis Obispo with her husband, Brent Kohl, 49. The two stayed at Dan DeVaul’s Sunny Acres Ranch, where Kohl worked as a ranch hand and Walker would perform various household duties.

Walker said the couple now has a long-term plan. A mutual friend is renovating a home in the California Valley, and has offered them the place to stay once the work is done. They would then be allowed to rent out their RV in order to provide some additional income. She said she expects the home to be ready in the next five to six months.

This plan, Walker said, will provide a better living standard for she and her husband, and eventually, could lead to improvements in her health (Walker is a diabetic).

In the meantime, however, what the couple needs is a place to stay—not a roof over their head, they already have that. Instead, they need a place to stay in their motor home with a reliable electrical hookup. What she and Kohl can offer in return, she said, is to help out around the house, as well as loyal companionship.

“I would be grateful, so grateful,” Walker said. “It’s not easy out here.”

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