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Launched TUESDAY February 11, 2020 on www.zReportage.com Story #723: Sleeping Outside: Six months ago, in the middle of the night, Lane't Lynn's friend decided she and her two children couldn't stay with them anymore. Suddenly, they found themselves homeless..Unable to find a shelter, they started sleeping in her car. She thought it would be temporary. It stretched on for six months. They stayed mostly in the parking lot of a Citrus Heights park that had a bathroom. They weren't the only homeless family staying there, she said. For four days, they stayed in a downtown Sacramento hotel with a voucher from the county's department of human services. But it expired, and they went back to sleeping in the car.'It's hard,' said Lynn, 24. Lynn, who is known by this name and requested her legal name be withheld because she fears for her welfare, was sitting on the bed of her room at America's Best Value Inn in Sacramento last week. She was feeding her year-old son London Velavaz apple sauce while her 3-year-old daughter Kalaya Warren watched 'Frozen' in pajamas. 'But I make sure my kids have what they need. We make it the best we can,' she said. Homeless mom describes the hardship of finding housing with her children. Many homeless mothers in Sacramento have a similar story. As Sacramento rents continue to rapidly rise, affordable housing has become scarce. As a result, the region's homeless shelters are typically full, while many people have taken to living in encampments along the American River Parkway, under freeway overpasses, and in downtown doorways. A huge number of them are families, quietly sleeping under blankets in winter coats in cars parked in tucked away in the corners of parking lots at grocery stores, churches and parks.
© Renee C. Byer/The Sacramento Bee/ZUMAPRESS.com.
KALAYA WARREN, 3, holds a donut while staying in the Americas Best Value Inn on Friday.
© Renée C. Byer/Sacramento Bee via ZUMA Wire
KALAYA WARREN, 3, shares her applesauce with her brother LONDON VELVAZ, 1 1/2 years old, while staying at Americas Best Value Inn on Friday.
© Renee C. Byer/The Sacramento Bee/ZUMAPRESS.com
LANE'T LYNN, 24, lifts her daughter KALAYA WARREN, 3, to help her wash her hands while staying at Americas Best Value Inn Friday.
© Renee C. Byer/The Sacramento Bee/ZUMAPRESS.com
KALAYA WARREN, 3, hugs her mother LANE'T LYNN, 24, while staying at Americas Best Value Inn on Friday. 'It's hard to not cry when you have kids. Whenever I cry or something happens she' s like mommy it's okay, it's going to be okay' said Lynn about her daughter. Sacramento leads the U.S. with homeless families sleeping outside.
© Renée C. Byer/Sacramento Bee via ZUMA Wire
KALAYA WARREN, 3, gets ready to brush her mother LANE'T LYNN'S hair as younger brother LONDON VALVAZ, 1 1/2, center, watches at Americas Best Value Inn on Friday,. 'She is my rock,' said Lynn about her daughter.
© Renée C. Byer/Sacramento Bee via ZUMA Wire
LANE'T LYNN, 24, holds LONDON VELVAZ, 1 1/2, as her daughter KALAYA WARREN, 3, reaches for food on top of the dresser while staying at Americas Best Value Inn on Friday. Lynn said, she 'called St. John's and they told me the only way they could help me is if I was fighting an addiction' said Lynn. 'So I said because I'm not fighting an addiction you can' help me?' And they said 'If you aren't fighting alcohol or drugs there isn' anything we can do for you right now' she said.
© Renée C. Byer/Sacramento Bee via ZUMA Wire
LANE'T LYNN, 24, plays with son LONDON VALVAZ, 1 1/2, as her daughter KALAYA WARREN, 3, points to food she would like to eat on top of the dresser while living in Americas Best Value Inn on Friday. Lynn has struggled to find housing. Lynn said she 'also had somebody tell me that if I only had one kid it wouldn't be an issue but because of the fact that I had two kids its a problem. So it's hard all the way around' she said.
© Renee C. Byer/The Sacramento Bee/ZUMAPRESS.com
While her son LONDON VELVAZ, 1 1/2, naps in the background, LANE'T LYNN, 24, helps her daughter KALAYA WARREN, 3, find a show to watch on her computer while staying at Americas Best Value Inn on Friday. She said that a couple of places asked her if she was a victim of domestic violence when she was searching for housing. 'So because I'm not going through domestic violence I can't get help,' said Lynn.
© Renee C. Byer/The Sacramento Bee/ZUMAPRESS.com
KALAYA WARREN, 3, watches a cartoon on her mother's computer as she and her brother LONDON VELVAZ, 1 1/2, take naps while staying at Americas Best Value Inn on Friday. The family was living in a car before getting a voucher from the Housing Support Program for a few days in the hotel. They were back living in their car and searching for housing on Tuesday. Sacramento leads the U.S. in homeless families sleeping outside.
© Renee C. Byer/The Sacramento Bee/ZUMAPRESS.com
LONDON VELVAZ, 1 1/2, holds the key to the hotel room as his sister KALAYA WARREN, 3, hides while waiting for their mom to pack up the room in Sacramento on Tuesday. They were moving back into their car and headed to the welfare office in Rancho Cordova to see if they could be reimbursed after their voucher expired.
© Renee C. Byer/The Sacramento Bee/ZUMAPRESS.com
KALAYA WARREN, 3, and her brother LONDON VELVAZ, 1 1/2, watch as their mom LANE'T LYNN, 24, packs up their car below as they move out of Americas Best Value Inn and back into their car in Sacramento on Tuesday.
© Renee C. Byer/The Sacramento Bee/ZUMAPRESS.com
LANE'T LYNN, 24, lifts her son LONDON VELVAZ, 1 1/2, as she and daughter KALAYA WARREN, 3, move out of America's Best Value Inn back into their car in Sacramento on Tuesday. They spent the last few days in the hotel and were headed to the welfare office to see if they could be reimbursed to stay more days in another hotel.
© Renee C. Byer/The Sacramento Bee/ZUMAPRESS.com
KALAYA WARREN, 3, scratches her head as her brother LONDON VELVAZ, 1 1/2, peers out from inside their car in Sacramento on Tuesday. Warren's mother LANE'T LYNN had recently treated her for lice and gave her a bath before they left Americas Best Value Inn to live in their car. Sacramento leads U.S. in homeless families sleeping outside.
© Renee C. Byer/The Sacramento Bee/ZUMAPRESS.com
LANE'T LYNN goes back to living in her car after a few days at the Americas Best Value Inn in Sacramento on Tuesday. 'They said the wait list is closed and in order for me to be on it, it would have to be an emergency' said Lynn when she tried to get housing. She said she replied to them, 'Okay, but this is an emergency, me and my kids are sleeping in our car,' and that they replied there was nothing they could do.
© Renee C. Byer/The Sacramento Bee/ZUMAPRESS.com
LANE'T LYNN, 24, tries to bring comfort and joy to London Velvaz, 1 1/2, as her daughter KALAYA WARREN, 3, plays with stickers as they move back into their car from Americas Best Value Inn.
© Renee C. Byer/The Sacramento Bee/ZUMAPRESS.com
LANE'T LYNN, 24, says she is stressed as she moves her children KALAYA WARREN, 3, and LONDON VELVAZ, 1 1/2, back into their car after their stay at Americas Best Value Inn in Sacramento ended on Tuesday. 'These are my kids. Nobody else does anything for them. Their dads don't pay me to do anything. I do this on my own. It's not because I have to, it's because this is what I was blessed with' Lynn said.
© Renee C. Byer/The Sacramento Bee/ZUMAPRESS.com
LONDON VALVAZ, 1 1/2, waits for his mom LANE'T LYNN, 24, to finish packing up the car in the parking lot of Americas Best Value Inn where they were staying with their sisterKALAYA WARREN, 3, for a few nights in Sacramento on Tuesday. The family is back living in their car as they search for housing. ' I'm just taking it one day at a time. Yes, it's going to be stressful but there really isn't anything I can do about it. I just have to do everything I can so to make sure we can find somewhere'Lynn said. Sacramento leads U.S. in homeless families sleeping outside.
© Renee C. Byer/The Sacramento Bee/ZUMAPRESS.com
Renée C. Byer :: zReportage Photo

Renée C. Byer is an American documentary photojournalist best known for her in-depth work focusing on the disadvantaged and those who otherwise would not be heard. Byer’s ability to produce photographs with profound emotional resonance and sensitivity earned her the Pulitzer Prize for feature photography in 2007 and made her a Pulitzer finalist in 2013. Renée has covered local, national, and international stories for The Sacramento Bee since 2003. Renée work has been published in books, magazines, newspapers, and on websites worldwide and was the basis for a 2009 TEDx Tokyo talk that received a standing ovation. Renée’s most recent book project “Living on a Dollar a Day: The Lives and Faces of the World’s Poor,” invites you to help put an end to global poverty. Renée traveled to 10 countries on four continents to report on this story, with a forward by the Dalai Lama. The book has won numerous accolades worldwide, including the IPA’s First Place for a Documentary book. Byer’s reportage is proudly represented by ZUMA Press and been featured in award winning zReportage.com a record ten times, as well as DOUBLEtruck Magazine. When not on assignment, Renée can be found sharing her passion for photography at lectures and workshops worldwide. Renée C. Byer lives in Sacramento, California, USA.:723



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