Executives with homeless nonprofit experienced living in a car to help understand those they serve

Ken Craft and Rowan Vansleve are living in a car to experience a small piece of the reality homeless people face.

Amanda Palacios Image
Friday, January 13, 2023
Homeless nonprofit execs living in a car for 100 hours on LA streets
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Ken Craft and Rowan Vansleve are living in a 2001 Toyota Camry for 100 hours to experience a small portion of the reality homeless people face.

NORTH HILLS, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Ken Craft and Rowan Vansleve have been transforming the lives of people experiencing homelessness through the organization Hope the Mission, formally known as Hope of the Valley.

Every story of struggle and survival inspires them to keep fighting for their mission to prevent and reduce homelessness.

But every story they hear has only been just that - a story, not a reality. Last year, they spent 100 hours on the streets of Los Angeles to help get a better understanding of what it's like to be homeless.

This week, they're doing it again. This time around, they're living in a 2001 Toyota Camry that's down to its last leg, and they still have to show up to work every day.

"We started on Sunday and we knew we'd be living in a car and, of course, some of the immediate challenges are what do we eat?" said CEO and Founder Ken Craft. "Now we were given $10 per day and that $10 has to cover food and gas. But the first night really was, where do we sleep?"

"The first night we probably spent an hour driving around in circles. And everywhere you see the red sign 'No parking after 10 p.m.' 'No stopping,'" said CFO Rowan Vansleve.

On the third night of their experience, Craft and Vansleve said the temperature dropped to 40 degrees and right before they went to sleep, they had to deal with a flat tire and parking problems.

"We were lucky enough to have a spare and we were able to navigate that," Vansleve said.

"And then about 1:30, we had a security company and they said 'You need to move your vehicle,'" Craft said.

Even after a chaotic night, the two executives said reality really struck when they saw police responding to a homeless person.

"Unfortunately and tragically, this gentleman who was handicapped had passed away right there," Vansleve said.

Craft and Vansleve said the experience has been a reminder of the pain and suffering so many people live with.

"I think the more we can put ourselves in their shoes, it will allow us to be better leaders in the community," Craft said.

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