True Stories

Reality of People Living in Public Storage Units Captured on Google Street View

By | Nov 24, 2010

We have written a lot on this site about the tragedy of people living in Public Storage units. Heck, we have even drawn about the subject too.

Now it would appear this modern economic hardship has been captured on Google Street View.

For those who are not familiar, Google pays drivers to drive around cities with cameras mounted to the rooves of their cars. The images are used in Google Maps so people can see a picture of any street they are interested in.

While most Street View images are pretty uninteresting, I was looking through a blog that catalogues unique Street View images and came across the following picture.

I don’t know where this picture was taken, but perhaps this missing information underscores the point that there are people all over the country who are forced to live in storage units. It is said that a photograph is worth a thousand words, and indeed, images, like stories, can be powerful.

But this picture really caught struck me because it is so candid and unexpected. This is not a romanticized portrait of poverty. It is not a work of high art or cinemagraphic genius. This picture is more like one taken with a surveillance camera than a photographer’s.

Yet it is the very mechanized, utilitarian way in which this image was captured that resonates with me so deeply. This is the reality we have been talking about on this site, documented on a Google Map.

I hope we can erase this image from Google Street View. To be clear, I am not advocating censorship. Instead, let’s hope the next time a car drives by this Public Storage unit there is no one living there; no one who needs to live there.

However, we have to do more than hope. On Monday, Joel John Roberts wrote about how we need to consider building smaller housing units to help house those experiencing homelessness. I agreed with him before, and agree with him all the more now.

Public Storage units are small, and they do not have the proper amenities for living. Yet clearly people can, and do, live in small places. So why not build small units that are actually made for people to live in? A person living in their small apartment would make a better Street View image than someone forced to live in a Public Storage unit.

Photo credit: achimh


  1. Posted Jun 3, 2011 at 2:18 am | Permalink

    Love this site!

  2. Roi Suman
    Posted Aug 31, 2012 at 4:00 am | Permalink

    That's one way to use my fort lauderdale storage units I guess. All I need now is to organize the items in them and add some furniture and I have a quick place to stop over whenever I need to.

  3. Terry Wilson
    Posted Oct 4, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    Also a way to use our top warehouse management systems too. With this program I know my job will be less hassle! Which is great for me and my workers.

  4. Brenda Griswold
    Posted Oct 10, 2012 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    Too bad these people have no enough means to buy or rent a house. In my own understanding, a self storage in Perth is just appropriate for small stuffs and I just couldn't imagine how these people could manage to live on storage boxes.

  5. Posted Aug 30, 2013 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    ..what a great post its always a great experience to visit your posts…

  6. Annie
    Posted Sep 1, 2014 at 6:12 am | Permalink

    Hello……..I just came across all these comments because after not seeing nor hearing from my elder son, who is 53, suddenly he appears on my email, telling me of his plight. He is homeless and living in a storage 'bin' as he calls it….My Maternal self bolted and I got him a PO box, sent him a load of money, and now , after reading, settling down, I realize there's nothing I can do to help him….or is there? Any suggestions?

  7. LISA
    Posted Sep 22, 2015 at 6:29 pm | Permalink


  8. citylink
    Posted May 31, 2016 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    Good thought

    Mini Trucks on Hire

  9. treasurecoasthomes
    Posted Sep 21, 2016 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    It makes me so sad seeing this and I know it is true being a local Realtor in S FL I deal with people who have been struck with unavoidable credit issues that dont allow them to get qualified to buy or even rent a home. I wish the gov would step in and help our people in the USa so no one has to live this way ever.

  10. treasurecoasthomes
    Posted Sep 21, 2016 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    Truly a travesty that people would have to resort to this maybe you can publish this article in the wall street journal so that it gets national attention.

  11. Posted Nov 21, 2016 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    whoah this blog is awesome i like examining your posts. Remain up the immense work! You know, many individuals are glancing around for this data, you could help them significantly.

  12. Posted Jan 31, 2017 at 5:03 am | Permalink

    Hey, I'm a long time fan and reader of your blog, first time commenter. Just wanted to say this post really hit home with the stuff I've been looking into. Thanks man

  13. Posted Apr 19, 2017 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    Open Storage units are little, and they don't have the best possible comforts for living. However plainly individuals can, and do, live in little places. So why not fabricate little units that are really made for individuals to live in? A man living in their little condo would improve a Street View picture than somebody compelled to live in a Public Storage unit.

  14. Posted Jun 7, 2017 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    This is probably the most "it actually makes sense" kind of post I've seen on on this subject. Best part… I didn't have to go digging through some weird web design to find it. Awesome! PLEASE keep posting new material!

  15. Posted Jun 22, 2017 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    Thank you Google! Everyone can see the whole world without spending a penny.

  16. Posted Jul 14, 2017 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    Really great post. This answered the majority of my questions. When I read this I actually opened up a word document and started taking notes haha.

  17. Posted Jul 19, 2017 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    Such a nice post you have shared.Lots of thing I got to know which I didn't know.

  18. Posted Aug 1, 2017 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    This article is very nice.I will definitely share this post others.