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Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

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Behind the wheel with nowhere to go

Edward Fernandez
Kitty Weathers, their dog, Gaia and the 2013 Hyundai Elantra they both call home.

For over a year, 28-year-old Kitty Weathers (they/them) and their dog, Gaia, have called an electric blue 2013 Hyundai Elantra, parked on the outskirts of a Walmart parking lot in Long Beach Towne Center, home.

In their trunk: a DVD player, cutting board, knife, Tupperware, tuna, and season 1 of Charmed. The backseats hold Gaia’s food bowls, Gaia’s bed, and Kitty’s sleeping setup. And in the front seats, “My organized chaos,” Kitty joked, “It looks very disorganized, but I know where everything is.”

There they keep extra layers, snacks, dog treats, medication, a tablet, and shower gear.

Days consist of taking medication, walking Gaia three to four times a day, playing mobile games for cash rewards, preparing Gaia’s food, listening to podcasts, and grabbing a meal or two for themself.

A few others call the parking lot their home.

“Walmart lets you sleep in your car,” they said, “I used to do parking lot security at Walmart. Anybody in a car or van without a camper is acceptable..”

Generally, Kitty shies away from meeting their neighbors. Many are on drugs, they said.

Of those they have met, most have left in fear of Walmart’s repeated purges.

“At one point, they were doing it once a month. The tow truck goes around taking pictures of all the cars. They’re like, ‘If anybody’s still here in an hour then we’re towing them.’”

“That’s illogical,” they argued indignantly, “What about employees and people that’re actually shopping?

“[Purges are done] because RVs aren’t allowed to be parked here and the entire back section was just RV, RV, RV, RV. I get it but just tow the RVs. Don’t make the rest of us leave.”

Kitty’s trunk space. (Edward Fernandez)

Besides having to relocate temporarily, Kitty’s never had any trouble from any employees.

“Most of them recognize us,” Kitty explained, “We go in all the time. They’ve watched Gaia grow up.”

Yet, the experience remains exhausting, they noted, “Being born a girl makes it more complicated for sure.”

Last summer–before Gaia was in the picture–a man had been watching them. He parked next to their car, his stare boring through the black mesh screen on Kitty’s driver-side window. Then, he was gone.

A week later, he returned with a barrage of questions: ‘Are you a girl? Are you single? Do you have a boyfriend? Do you have a boyfriend?

When Kitty wouldn’t cooperate with the interrogation, “he reached in and tried to touch me in the privates.”

The man darted away when Kitty brought out their pepper spray.

Aside from sexual assault, there are, of course, the financial hardships.

Kitty receives $800 every six weeks from financial aid and $100 – $200 a month from their OnlyFans account.

“I’ve been doing it for the last six, seven years. I have enough built-up content that I can sell what I’ve got and occasionally get a hotel room to make more.

“Initially, I needed side hustle income and figured I could make some money since people were always saying I was so attractive. Now I keep at it because it’s the best I can do and because it’s a great confidence boost,” they said.

Fifty dollars a week is all Kitty can spend on food for themself. The options are Del Taco, Carl’s Jr., Taco Bell, and the occasional instant ramen they cook with their mug-sized travel kettle.

To ensure costs stay down, they only eat once or twice a day.

Yet, Kitty said they aren’t looking for work, “My body is constantly trying to shut down.”

“Every time I get the cold I turn it into bronchitis or pneumonia,” this they explain is on top of their “multiple autoimmune issues.”

Kitty is among the 56% of Americans that can’t afford a $1,000 emergency.

In fact, they don’t have car insurance and their registration is expired. Problems that could be mitigated if they had access to their college fund.

They claim their parents are withholding financial assistance until Kitty starts to live a more Christian life. Their parents’ ace in the hole: Kitty’s nine-year-old son, Jasper, for whom they have legal guardianship.

Everything Kitty needs in the front seat. (Edward Fernandez)

Kitty visits him every weekend.

“Jasper knows; [about Kitty living in their car] he’s asked about it. He wants to be with me. He wants me to take him,” they said, pain in their voice.

If Kitty had access to that college fund, they say they’d find a place for them and Jasper.

“I can afford a monthly thing [rent], but I can’t afford a deposit and first month. I can put one or the other, not both.”

As of now, they’re using Walmart’s Wi-Fi to complete online courses. Kitty’s set to graduate in a few years with a bachelor’s in animal science from Unity Environmental College in Maine. They hope to be a vet someday.

Kitty’s plan is to get on disability for mental health issues and multiple other diagnoses. Long Beach Homeless Services came around the parking lot and gave them the information they need to get on the LBHS Section 8 housing list. They just need to verify their homelessness through a social worker.

After that, “Get stable enough to get Jasper back and then get the fuck out of Cali.

“I’d like to get closer to Indiana. I have a cousin out there and she had her daughter months within me having my son. They’re the best of friends when they hang out.”

But Jasper has demands. He wants a step-dad.

“It’s not that simple,” they laughed, “some people are [put off by Kitty living in their car]. Some people pretend to be cool with it and when they realize I’m not gonna let them smash they’re like, ‘But you live in your car!’

“And I’ve lived in my car since you were trying to hit on me!” is their response.

According to the Los Angeles Times, 14,000 people in California alone are living out of their cars, vans or RVs.

Kitty’s got a plan and a motivation, but they’re, “Surprised I made it this long.”

If you’d like to help Kitty, their Instagram, where you can find their other social media accounts, is stonermilf710 and their Cashapp is $stonermum.

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About the Contributor
Edward Fernandez
Edward Fernandez, Staff Writer
Edward Fernandez is a staff writer for Talon Marks covering arts and entertainment and community news. Aside from reporting, Fernandez enjoys reading and hiking. He hopes to transfer to Cal State Fullerton in the Fall.
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  • F

    Fabian sanchezMay 7, 2024 at 8:21 pm

    Great story. I believe as the cost of living raises, we will unfortunately see more people living in their cars. The government has more focuse on countries outside our borders, when we have Americans who could use these more emergencies assistance programs to get themselves stable again or start a family.

  • K

    KarMay 6, 2024 at 6:10 pm

    Thank you for sharing their story in a respectful manner. This is excellent reporting and writing. Great job!