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Dozens in Bristol say they are forced to live in vans because of housing costs

Photo: ITV West Country

Dozens of people in Bristol say they are being forced to live in vans because of the city's crippling housing crisis.

Vehicles have been reported in many areas of the city with residents saying soaring house prices have left them little choice but to build their own communities.

Bristol's mayor Marvin Rees says the council is committed to providing more affordable housing in the face of austerity measures.

A range of vehicles make up the community, from smaller vans to caravans. Credit: ITV West Country

From law students to mechanics, carpenters to roofers, vans have become home to a huge cross section of people in Bristol.

The exact number of people living in vans across the city is not known but dozens have been reported in areas such as Easton, St Paul's and Bedminster.

Many people say they do not have a choice in the matter with rents soaring amid what has been called a housing crisis.

Many people say they do not have a choice in the matter with Bristol rents soaring. Credit: ITV West Country

For some people, living in an unconventional community has its benefits.

Rad used to be an engineer for Rolls Royce but having given up his job he found himself homeless before a friend offered him use of a caravan.

I think the positive thing is that the residents think that this is a safe community. They're not going to walk past and get scared. Everyone is friendly, everyone says hello. There's food going on, there's music, there's people interacting with each other. I think that the residents feel safer knowing that the people who live down here- that this area used to be a road for prostitution. It's now being occupied by us and controlled.

– Rad

Many people living in vans say they have been priced out of buying or renting a house in Bristol.

The council says it is working hard to build more affordable homes.

Mayor of Bristol Marvin Rees admits there is no simple solution when it comes to the so-called van dwellers.

It can be a lifestyle for some people but I also recognise it's an issue of affordability and it's a consequence of what's going on in housing. I live in the area too. I've got a number of vans around the corner from my home- literally 10 yards- sometimes parked outside. And people are trying to get by and we've got to make this a city where people can get by.

That's a commitment we've made. We can't click our fingers and do it over night but what we can assure people is that in the face of austerity, you know, a really challenging financial burden, we are trying to rally the city together to get things done.

– Marvin Rees