We’re glad you found the Homes On Wheels Alliance (HOWA) website. HOWA is a 501(c)3 charitable organization dedicated to helping people get into safe and secure homes on wheels. Our largest need-based programs are the Nomad Emergency Fund and the Grants & Improvements of Vehicles. We also bring nomads together for learning and community at the In-Person Caravans, Virtual Caravans, and at the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous (RTRs). Check out our blog and videos. Consider becoming a volunteer or donor. For late-breaking HOWA news, go to our Facebook Page.
Click on Questions
For Bob’s Answers about HOWA’s Work
Who are you trying to help?
We’re trying to prevent many senior citizens, the working poor, and people with disabilities from falling into being truly homeless and living on the streets. Our mission is to help them to live rent-free by providing them with vehicles, or improving their current vehicles, in which to live. For many reasons, America has evolved into an expensive nation in which to live, with very high costs of home ownership or rent. For many of us, that means we can no longer afford to live and pay for traditional housing. People are forced to decide if they will eat, pay rent or electric bill. That horrible choice is especially true for seniors who are on a low fixed income. We believe we have a solution for them!
Aren't you ashamed of putting people into tents, vans and RVs? Don't they deserve better?
When I first started living in a van, I was very ashamed of the depths to which I had fallen. I was still working my same job, paying taxes, and supporting my family, but I felt like a total failure. As time went on, my feelings changed 180 degrees, and I fell in love with the freedom, simplicity, frugality, independence, and earth-friendliness of the nomadic way of life. For the last 17 years, I have devoted myself to spreading the knowledge about it and have led many thousands of people to join me—to the point where it has become a common thing among many age groups. Rarely have I ever seen a person regret the decision to live nomadically on wheels. Literally, thousands of people have come up to me and shook my hand or hugged me and thanked me for leading them into the best times of their lives. I’m still waiting for the first person to punch me in the nose and tell me I ruined his or her life—fortunately it has not happened!
How will you know if they deserve your help?
If we could, we’d help everyone, but we know that isn’t practical, so we must focus on those who need it most. To accomplish that, we use an application process that all of our applicants are required to complete. It’s designed to learn everything we can about a person’s financial situation and intent to live a mobile life. Using the application, we’ll direct our resources to those most in need and those who will most likely to become a long-term success story.
Shouldn't you be giving people a hand up, not a hand out?
That’s exactly what we do. Whenever we assist someone with a home on wheels, we require them to start making income-based monthly payments into an escrow account. When we grant a van or RV, we hold the escrow payments for them as an emergency fund. Our clients learn how to create and keep a budget, and also save for their future–all the while gaining their independence. We are astounded by the number of clients who choose to give back to the mobile community through HOWA’s volunteer programs!
Aren't you afraid some people will rip you off?
No, we’re fairly confident our application process weeds out those people. But, even if it occasionally fails, we would rather be ripped off on a rare occasion than fail to help someone who genuinely needs it. When we donate a van or RV to someone, we place a lien on the title until they have made three years of payments into their escrow account. If they fail to make their payments or meet their other contractual responsibilities, we repossess the vehicle. If returned, the vehicle is granted to another client in need.
What about when they have problems with the vehicle later on?
One of the main reasons they are required to pay into the escrow account is to create an emergency fund … that will give them a secure future, knowing they can survive problems like breakdowns.
Won't they be lonely?
We’ve found a solution for that by creating our Caravans Programs. The In-Person Caravans are small groups of people that camp together on public lands. The Virtual Caravans are people from across America interested in the nomadic lifestyle who regularly meet online to learn about being a nomad and to provide support to one another. The caravans give each new person coming into the program a place to go and learn about this new way of life in a secure place and also a chance to make new friends and build community. It’s very important that people know they aren’t alone and that they are part of a caring community. The Caravan Programs has far exceeded our expectations, and people are making deep, life-long friendships that are truly life-changing.
Together we are changing lives, building supportive community, and preventing homelessness one person at a time.
Who Are We?
Homes On Wheels Alliance, Inc. (HOWA), a charitable 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, strives to help a significant portion of the American population who are being squeezed between the rapidly rising cost of shelter on one hand, and either stagnant wages or too-small of a retirement on the other. Through no fault of their own, they are at serious risk of losing their homes and apartments. We serve this community by providing:
- Safe and secure homes on wheels,
- Improvements and repairs to their mobile dwellings,
- Transition assistance into a financially- and environmentally-sustainable lifestyle, and
- Opportunities to connect with and give back to the nomadic tribe, area communities, and public lands.
What We Believe:
We believe that an “alliance” can be effective and should consist of:
- The larger mobile community,
- Individual donors,
- Government (local, state and federal),
- Private businesses and industries, and
- Various nonprofit organizations.
How We Work:
By combining our energies, resources and good-will into a united front, we make a significant impact towards alleviating the homeless problem and allowing our clients to remain contributing citizens. In doing so, we help them regain their confidence, preserve their independence, self-sufficiency and dignity. Acting together, we believe the future can be bright for all of us!
Some thoughts and musings from the Homes On Wheels Alliance Staff and Friends.
How You Can Help.
It is no secret that there is a growing proportion of the country that cannot pay rent, pay for food and medications on the money they have each month.
Homes On Wheels Alliance, Inc. is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that focuses on providing safe and secure mobile housing to those in need, helping them get back on their feet. This enormous undertaking succeeds only through the efforts of volunteers, donors, and organizations that want to change lives and make a difference.
Click here to volunteer or on the button below to donate.
Please click here to find other ways you can support the Homes On Wheels Alliance Programs.