An alternative way of living in Berkeley: Sleeping in a van

Davíd Rodríguez/Senior Staff
Charles Garfinkle checks his phone inside his van parked on Northside before heading out the door Thursday morning. DAVÍD RODRÍGUEZ/SENIOR STAFF

Charles Garfinkle lived at the Berkeley Student Cooperative, or BSC, for five years of his neuroscience doctoral program at UC Berkeley. When he decided to take a break from the program to be part of a startup company, he was no longer guaranteed room and board at the BSC. As a result, he opted for sleeping in a van and relying on friends to use their housing facilities instead of paying market-rate rent for an apartment.

Garfinkle is currently working and says he could easily get an apartment, but he decided to save money by paying $50 a month for car insurance instead of rent. Living in a van not only is a cheaper living alternative, but for Garfinkle, this is his way to avoid contributing to housing gentrification in the Bay Area.

Charles Garfinkle checks his phone inside his van parked on Northside before heading out the door Thursday morning. DAVÍD RODRÍGUEZ/SENIOR STAFF

Charles Garfinkle checks his phone inside his van parked on Northside before heading out the door Thursday morning. DAVÍD RODRÍGUEZ/SENIOR STAFF

Garfinkle brushes his teeth at his friend's home in Berkeley in the morning. DAVÍD RODRÍGUEZ/SENIOR STAFF

Garfinkle brushes his teeth at his friend’s home in Berkeley in the morning. DAVÍD RODRÍGUEZ/SENIOR STAFF

Garfinckle uses the doorsteps of his 1989 Chevy Sportvan to put on his boots. DAVÍD RODRÍGUEZ/SENIOR STAFF

Garfinckle uses the doorsteps of his 1989 Chevy Sportvan to put on his boots. DAVÍD RODRÍGUEZ/SENIOR STAFF

Garfinkle locks his van outside the Graduate Theological Union before heading to a conference for the day. DAVÍD RODRÍGUEZ/SENIOR STAFF

Garfinkle locks his van outside the Graduate Theological Union before heading to a conference for the day. DAVÍD RODRÍGUEZ/SENIOR STAFF

Garfinle finishes off his night by turning on his string lights and settling into his hammock with a book. DAVÍD RODRÍGUEZ/SENIOR STAFF

Garfinle finishes off his night by turning on his string lights and settling into his hammock with a book. DAVÍD RODRÍGUEZ/SENIOR STAFF