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Woman goes extra mile to survive after being priced out of Phoenix-area housing

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Posted at 6:00 PM, Jun 21, 2022

With the cost of living and temperatures on the rise, some Valley families are finding themselves priced out of housing with nowhere to go.

Knoye Brown, an Arizona native, is one of them.

“This is home,” she told ABC15 while pointing to her tent.

It’s a humble abode. The tent is located underneath a tree that provides shade for most of the day.

“That’s our friend,” she said while pointing to a hummingbird.

She says, given the outrageous home prices, she's happy to have found peace in the outdoors.

Most of all, she is thankful it’s free.

“Housing is so expensive, and you can’t afford it. I would be killing myself to pay rent,” she added.

Rising prices drove her out of the apartment she was living in.

“I was priced out in 2021,” said Brown.

So, she eventually moved into her car, but with these rising temperatures, she was forced out yet again.

“Oh my goodness. Like, I would wake up just like sweating,” she said when remembering what it was like to sleep inside her car in triple-digit heat.

Brown says it’s impossible to sit or sleep in her car this time of year. ABC15 did a temperature test with an Infrared Thermometer.

At the time, it was just before noon and the temperature outside was 104 degrees. When we tested the temperature inside Brown’s car, temperatures shot up to 171 degrees.

“I would have to turn my air on. And gas is ridiculous,” she added.

So, Brown decided to go out and buy herself a tent.

“It only took but seconds to put this together. We have our refrigerator, which is our ice chest,” she told ABC15.

It’s a tent that can house about six people. It has messages of hope blanketing the place she calls home.

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“Love lives here” was one of the phrases written on the walls of the tent.

“And we put some mats down to make it look a little more comfortable,” said Brown as she showed us around.

Brown says she’s tried to get into shelters, but the waiting list was just too long.

“The system is broken; we cannot get into the places. You're on a four-year waiting list, or you make too much…”

Brown eventually took matters into her own hands.

“This is how we survive,” she told ABC15.

She even teaches children who may find themselves needing help along the way.

“You can achieve anything in life. It don’t matter what it is,” Brown said to two little girls.

During the day, you'll find Brown volunteering in the community garden.

“When I need food, I go across the street. And like for me, I’m gentle with it…and then we just eat it off the tree,” said Brown as she picked some banana peppers.

She is hopeful the roots she's planting will help sustain her as she figures out what comes next.

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“I’m so happy and I am freer than I’ve ever been,” Brown added.

Brown says in July, she will be moving to Florida to see if she can get help there.

In the second part of our Priced Out series, we’ll be talking to Central Arizona Shelter Services about the growing homelessness issue and what they need to keep those in need sheltered.