Homelessness has become such a big problem in the San Francisco area that waters outside the city are increasingly crowded with people living on makeshift boats.
The homeless population floating off the coast of wealthy Marin County, just north of San Francisco, has doubled in recent years to about 100, according to authorities. The ragtag collection of some 200 barges, sailboats, and other mostly decrepit vessels in which they live and store their belongings is a sign of an affordable-housing crisis in California that is being felt particularly acutely in the San Francisco Bay Area.
The boating homeless include some who are employed but say they can’t afford to live on land, some who prefer the independence and others who are jobless or mentally ill. The seafaring life isn’t easy for any of them.
“It’s not a free ride. It’s a lot of effort to be out here,” said Kristina Weber, who moved onto a 54-foot vessel she purchased for $15,000 because she couldn't afford rent for a studio apartment in Sausalito, a town 10 miles north of San Francisco, that had grown to $3,000 a month.