Humanizing the Housing CrisisJune 21 2018
"We All Live Here" is a documentary project that tells the stories of individuals navigating our current housing crisis.
Today, 70% of Californians cannot afford to own a home, and while the crisis of affordability has always hit low income renters the hardest, it is now a reality for the middle class as well. In 2017, 30% of California tenants put more than 50% of their income toward rent and utilities. The California dream has been shifting, for many, to “simplified living."
"We All Live Here" is a creative collaboration between photographer, California residents, housing advocates, and policymakers that will reveal the costs and myths of living in the Golden State. To illustrate all sides of the affordable housing crisis, I have selected to begin in the Bay Area, Los Angeles, and the San Joaquin Valley to showcase how the crisis affects not just Californians, but Americans.
By humanizing the statistics my hope is that we can begin to connect to each other on a real level and start to create change in the way we 'house' our friends and neighbors now and in the future.
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I met Bill on one of my runs along the river. He's always pulled to the side of the road with his dog -- lounging in the sun or playing music. He told me he's been a rock climber, a gymnast, a college grad, a good husband. That he once served in the Vietnam war, lived in a big house, and took care of his children when they were little and his mother until she passed. He lives in his car because housing is too expensive and takes baths in the river since he doesn't have a "real" shower. He plays his guitar every day because it makes him feel good. And loves his 13 year old dog, Buck, unconditionally. He's not perfect he admits, and doesn't have much but he tells me "It's important to keep two things: something that makes you feel good and a smile".
The idea for this exploration grew out of a sailboat. Her name is Windfall II and the thought of buying her started when I realized I was consistently putting more than half of my paycheck to rent each month to live in Los Angeles. When I realized I could live smaller, simpler, cheaper and stay in SoCal, I bought a boat. After moving in, I quickly found out there were many other people doing the same thing. Housing was not just a problem for me but for most of the neighbors on my dock. From there I learned people were living alternatively outside of the marina in their RVs, cars, back houses, garages etc. all throughout California. I was then on a mission to learn about other people's stories on why they lived where they lived and how they were making it work.
Today, housing is a major problem. With over a decade of not building enough housing or setting up correct zoning procedures, we are now struggling to house our residents.
Without a single county with sufficient affordable housing across all income levels, it is my goal to reveal the realities of the housing crisis by fostering deeper and more substantive conversations with residents and policymakers.
My name is Rachel Bujalski and I am a documentary photographer. Over the past decade I've been documenting different stories around alternative living.
My next long term project “We All Live Here” will be a dynamic representation of the affordable housing crisis focusing in Los Angeles County, the Bay Area, and the San Joaquin Valley.
I'll be sharing photos, insights, and field notes here as I dig into these stories!
You can follow along on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rachelbujalski/
And my website for past work: https://www.rachelbujalski.com/