NO VACANCY: Homeless Women in Paradise

There were at least 500 women living without shelter in one of the most affluent sea-side communities in California. Women who could no longer afford record-breaking rents and sky-rocketing home prices were being forced out of their homes and finding it impossible to secure housing that was affordable. White, single women in their 60s, 70s and 80s were sleeping in their cars, living under freeways, camping on the beach and convalescing from breast cancer in the thick forest adjacent to the tony cities of Monterey, Pebble Beach and Carmel. These women were frequently raped and victimized. They remained invisible while eking out meager existences in the absence of services to meet their dire need for shelter and safety. 

A black, gay Episcopal priest received a letter from a stranger, alerting him to this festering human catastrophe and asking him for help. Feeling alienated and invisible himself, he quickly identified with these women and was compelled to act on their behalf. He asked two of his friends (a Buddhist priest and a Jew) to join him. And over the course of the next five years with the Community Foundation for Monterey County, they formed the Fund for Homeless Women, mobilized a community, raised public awareness and raised venture capital sufficient to start and sustain five new service programs and an endowment. Making the invisible visible for this and future generations.

NO VACANCY describes an incredible journey. It takes the reader from discovering the once hidden reality of homelessness on the Central Coast of California, to uncovering the complicated reasons for its existence, confronting the barriers preventing its amelioration, and the challenges of success. NO VACANCY will break your heart and leave you with new eyes. In it you will read stories of women (dead and alive) that will surprise you, challenge your notions of the homeless and guide you through the circuitous road of grassroots social change.  NO VACANCY will help you take the next step to making a difference. This is especially relevant today when communities face overburdened political will, strained financial support from the government and unreliable measures for social justice. In the United States, we live with the growing reality of homelessness, even in the places where we least expect it. But ultimately, we can all make a difference, find purpose and a way out of whatever compromises our ability to dream, to act for the greater good, and to belong.

Praise for NO VACANCY

— Jessica Bruder, author of Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Reid’s book is both a call to action and a heartening reminder that, even in times of widespread inequality and polarized politics, grassroots change remains within reach … Read More

— Mary L. Adams, Monterey County Supervisor, District 5

Michael Reid’s unique lens shows us situations most of us could not endure … Read More