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Columbus Laws Silent on Living in Car

Updated: Dec 19, 2018

The Columbus Dispatch – Feb 18, 2018 

Some people live in their vehicles because they can’t afford rent, and in Columbus, there’s little to stop them from parking their homes in front of yours.

Eileah Ohning is among those with such mobile homes. She and her boyfriend are reconfiguring a van so they can live in it to save money.

Ohning is an adjunct professor of photography at Columbus State Community College and a producer for a New York-based advertising and media agency. She lived in her car for a year, from 2015 to 2016, for the same reason: She was trying to pay off student loans of $42,000 after attending Ohio State University.

“I did have other options,” she said. “I could afford apartments, but barely.”

If she paid rent, however, she wouldn’t have money left over for a down payment on a house.

People living in, or sleeping in, their vehicles have become so commonplace that many cities across the country have passed ordinances to regulate the practice.

That includes Wooster, in northeastern Ohio, which in 2013 made it a minor misdemeanor for anyone to live or sleep in a vehicle. The city defined human habitation as six or more hours of “eating, resting, recreating and/or sleeping.”

Los Angeles prohibits people living in vehicles from parking in residential areas between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m., and from parking within 500 feet of schools, preschools, day-care facilities and parks.

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