When Living Out Of A Car, It's Hard To Feel At Home

Erika Kalberer (left) and her mother, Kris. Their family has been living in their car. Kris tells her daughter, "I don't think sometimes you know how strong you are." i i

Erika Kalberer (left) and her mother, Kris. Their family has been living in their car. Kris tells her daughter, "I don't think sometimes you know how strong you are." StoryCorps hide caption

itoggle caption StoryCorps
Erika Kalberer (left) and her mother, Kris. Their family has been living in their car. Kris tells her daughter, "I don't think sometimes you know how strong you are."

Erika Kalberer (left) and her mother, Kris. Their family has been living in their car. Kris tells her daughter, "I don't think sometimes you know how strong you are."

StoryCorps

About a decade ago, Kris Kalberer left her job as a retail manager to raise her kids and care for her elderly mother. For a while, the family did well on her husband's income. Then he lost his job.

Their finances spiraled out of control. They lost their house in March 2011, and since then, their lives have become transient. They stayed in motels, or with friends. Currently they live in their car.

"When the rain comes down, or it's cold and the inside of the windows ice up, it's very confusing and lonely," Kalberer says on a visit to StoryCorps with her teenage daughter Erika.

Erika is 17 and wants to go to college. She says she worries, though, about whether she will be able to get in.

"I've had to adjust the way I do things completely for school," Erika says. "I try to go to the library to do my homework, but sometimes that's just kind of impossible. Like, we're not near one or we don't have enough gas to get to one. And that kind of screwed up my GPA and any chances of getting into colleges I would want to get into. I worry about that a lot."

Kris Kalberer says as a mother, she feels like she should be able to fix things. "I've been able to fix everything else, but this. ... I'm having a hard time fixing. And I'm disappointed that I can't."

Erika doesn't blame her mother, though. "You tell me that I have my life ahead of me, but I think that you do too," she tells her. "I have no idea what I'd be doing with myself if you weren't around."

Audio produced for Morning Edition by Liyna Anwar and Eve Claxton.

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