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00000181-fa79-da89-a38d-fb7f2b910000KUOW is joining forces with other Seattle media outlets to highlight the homeless crisis in the city and region on Wednesday, June 29, 2017.The effort was modeled after a collaboration by more than 70 San Francisco outlets to focus a day of news attention on the issue and possible solutions.Read more about the Seattle project and check out our coverage below. Follow the city's coverage by using #SeaHomeless.HighlightsThe Jungle: an ongoing coverage project going into the notorious homeless encampment under Interstate 5.Ask Seattle's Homeless Community: KUOW is launching a Facebook group where anyone may ask a question about homelessness, but only people who have experienced it may answer. This was inspired by a recent event KUOW co-presented with Seattle Public Library and Real Change, where residents of the Jungle answered audience questions. No End In Sight: an award-winning investigative project from KUOW about King County's 10-year plan to end homelessness.

Homeless Mom: It Costs $700 A Month To Live In A Van

The back of Elizabeth Jay's Dodge Ram minivan is cluttered with her clothes and supplies because the van is her living room and bedroom.
KUOW Photo/Sarah Rosenthal
The back of Elizabeth Jay's Dodge Ram minivan doubles as her living room and bedroom.

When Elizabeth Jay tallies up her living expenses each month, they come to about $700. That doesn't include rent, because Jay is homeless: she lives in her van.

Jay told RadioActive's Sarah Rosenthal that she pays $118 for car insurance on her 15-year-old Dodge Ram minivan. She pays $150 on cell phone service for her and her daughter. She pays for a gym membership so she has access to a shower. She even pays dues to her synagogue, though not as much as she used to.

[asset-pullquotes[{"quote": "\"Every time I'm warm enough, I appreciate it. When I've had enough to eat, I'm grateful for it. And you know, sometimes I'm mad at God too.\" - Elizabeth Jay", "style": "wide"}]]When Jay moved into her van last year, she moved just about everything she owned into storage. So she pays $159 to hold on to her old furniture too, hoping that eventually she'll have an apartment to move into.

All of that costs Jay about $500. Add on about $200 for food, and that's $700 a month for Jay to be homeless.

Elizabeth Jay has a part-time job, but most of her paycheck goes to pay her daughter's college tuition. You can hear that side of her story here: