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Homeless in Tacoma: ‘I never thought that I would be sleeping in my car’

TACOMA, Wash. -- Officials in Tacoma are seeing more and more people beginning to sleep in their vehicles as homelessness becomes a problem across the Puget Sound.

"People just setting up for the night to sleep,” said neighbor Kevin Gillies.

Gillies said he and his neighbors see it all the time: People sleeping in cars outside their homes in Tacoma.

"We had a lady living in a dodge pickup cooking with alcohol and wax,” said Kevin Gillies.

Darnell Goss is one of those people, who's fallen on hard times.

"Not in a million years, I never thought that I would be sleeping in my car,” said Darnell Goss.

And for about a year and a half, he's been sleeping in his car on Fawcett Street in Tacoma.

"All my shoes, my clothes,” said Goss. Days I have to wash, I put all my clothes in a dirty bag and I take them to the washer."

Goss just recently started working again, but he said right now he has to stay in his car to survive.

"Okay, this is where I sleep every night,” he said. “Here. I get my pillow and I put my pillow on this."

He told Q13 News because his credit score is too low and he's been evicted before, he isn't qualified to rent a house or an apartment in the area.

According to city leaders, they've received 133 calls so far this year for people sleeping in their car. Last year it was 210 and in 2015, they received 26 calls.

Councilman Robert Thoms believes one of the reasons this is happening is because of the cost of living.

"There's not many houses available,” said Thoms. “There's not much apartment stock available for someone who works 40 hours a week.”

According to the Tacoma city ordinance, a person is only allowed to sleep in their car for up to 7 days in the city, unless you have a permit. Otherwise, the car could be impounded and the person could receive a $250 citation.

"This is all I have to sleep in,” said Goss. “So if they take my car, this is the only thing that gets me to work that I sleep in."

"In my mind, no one deserves to sleep on the streets,” said Thoms.