In-depth: With expensive SF rent, man runs business from his van

 

SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — A simple one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco can cost more than $3,500 a month in rent.

That is why some people are choosing to live out of their vehicles instead.

On Friday night, KRON4’s Lydia Pantazes introduces us to a business owner, who calls his van his home.

Sandwiched between businesses and luxury apartments sits a brightly colored van decorated with hand-painted lions and flowers–and even inspirational quotes.

“People ask, ‘Well, what part of the city do you live in?’ and I’m like, ‘Well, I live in my van so home is where I park it, you know,'” Constantine Kosov said.

Kosov is a native San Franciscan, along with his dog Phoenix.

He calls his van Harry Peaches Vanderbeast.

“Certain people are like, ‘Oh my God. That’s so cool, like your van is so cool,’ and other people are like, ‘Oh!'” Kosov said.

According the most recent San Francisco Point-In-Time Homeless Count and Survey from 2015, 4 percent of the more than 6,000 homeless in the city lives in a car, van, or RV.

“I try to vacuum every day,” Kosov said.

Inside, his van is neat and organized.

But Constantine doesn’t consider himself homeless and doesn’t use the term vehicular homeless.

“A van dwelling, a van dweller. Really? That’s like a thing? I didn’t make that up (laughs),” Kosov said.

Constantine is also one of the 11 percent of San Francisco’s homeless who is employed.

He owns his own company, a fruit delivery business called fruitrollup.org.

While Constantine prefers living in his van to paying the skyrocketing rent in San Francisco, it’s still a challenge.

On several streets, you either can’t park overnight during certain hours or not at all.

“There’s other areas where they have restrictions on the height and the length, which kind of put me off because my van is so tall,” Kosov said.

Dayton Andrews is a human rights organizer with the Coalition on Homelessness. The group pushes policy initiatives to help San Francisco’s homeless.

“San Francisco has over 22 laws on the books that specifically target homeless activity…,” Andrews said.

Things like standing, sitting, or resting in public places can get you a citation.

Constantine says he’s never had an issue with police.

Despite parking restrictions, he still prefers his van to paying thousands a month in rent.

“The van is my happy center,” Kosov said.

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