Julie Hambleton
Julie Hambleton
March 30, 2024 ·  4 min read

A bus for a home: ‘If it’s cold, I’m up checking on the heater all night long’

Most parents will do anything to provide for their children. This 51-year-old veteran and single dad has been doing his best for his kids within the means of his disability paychecks. Since being evicted from their apartment building last year, the family has now been homeless and living in a bus for nearly a year. This dad is doing his best to turn a bus into a home for his two kids.

Single Dad Living In A Bus With His Two Kids

Enzo Gelestino is a 51-year-old army veteran who was discharged in the 90s because of a medical condition that included uncontrolled seizures. He is also now a single dad trying to make ends meet for his two children, a primary school-aged boy, and a middle school-aged girl. Unfortunately, making ends meet on disability checks is a difficult thing to do. (1)

The family was living in an apartment. However, they were evicted last year. Their shower had been leaking for a year, and Enzo both tried to fix it on his own and asked the landlord to fix it. Finally, Enzo called the city’s code enforcement office to report the conditions, after which the landlord decided to evict them. (2)

First, they were living at a Super 8 motel. Unfortunately, Enzo’s $1500 per month disability pay wasn’t enough to support them staying there for very long. Afraid of “failing his kids again”, in his words, he knew he had to move them somewhere more sustainable. With motorhome prices skyrocketing post-pandemic, instead, Enzo bought an old school bus. The family have now been living in a bus ever since.

Kids First

One thing is for certain, Enzo always puts his kids first. Once they moved into the bus, he got to work trying to make it as home-y as possible for them. Each time he has saved up enough money, he makes more additions to try and make the place comfortable. He, himself, sleeps on the floor, but he made a private sleeping area for his kids.

“That’s pretty cold. I don’t have carpet on the floor yet,” Enzo said. “It’s the money thing”

Before he had saved up enough money for a propane heater, on cold nights he would wake up every two hours to turn the bus on in order to keep it warm enough so that his kids could keep sleeping. Still, even with the heater, he gets up every couple of hours or so to check on the heating. Currently, the bus has a propane refrigerator, a camp stove, and a toilet. He has also decorated it a bit by purchasing some spider plants. Soon Enzo hopes to install a shower. A handyman, he has installed a few solar panels for some light electrical use.

“It’s all progress in the work,” he said. “It’s not like I don’t know how to do it. It’s the money.”

Where Is It Parked?

Despite parking in places that allow for camping, Enzo had some trouble with the Police Department at the beginning. He also tried parking it for a night in a Walmart parking lot but was also told he couldn’t stay. Finally, someone from Public Works assessed their situation and determined that they were a family, not troublemakers. They gave Enzo and his children the green light to camp long-term, and even brought them some breakfast sandwiches on their first morning.

What’s It Like For The Kids?

Of course, being homeless hasn’t been easy for the children. In the beginning, Enzo would drop his kids off at school in the bus, which his younger son thought was pretty cool. The children have been subject to name calling and some bullying. Enzo says that people have called his kids hobos and homeless bums. His daughter got jumped by some bullies on the way home from school one day. Ever a protective father, Enzo went and spoke to the bullies and told them him would take legal action if they didn’t leave his daughter alone.

His biggest worry is keeping them warm in the winter, as he is not sure if heating assistance programs will cover the cost of fuel for the propane heater. He is committed to making sure his kids are well taken care of, however. Even if it means sacrificing his own personal comfort.

“I’ll do whatever it takes. I’ll go without food,” he said. “As long as the kids stay warm, they got food, they stay dry. I’m happy.”

Still, it is not easy for Enzo. He is doing the best he can, but he expresses how he can’t help but feel as though he is letting his family down. He wants to give them everything they need and more, but it has been a struggle.

“I feel like a failure nonstop to them,” he said. “People look down on us. You can’t get any help and everybody wants to look down on you.”

We certainly hope that the more people Enzo’s story reaches, perhaps the more help they can get to get this family back on their feet.

Keep Reading: Homeless Man Builds Wooden House ‘On Wheels’ On Hollywood Boulevard


  1. A bus for a home: ‘If it’s cold, I’m up checking on the heater all night long’.” Sun Journal. Andree Kehn. December 18.
  2. A bus for a home: ‘If it’s cold, I’m up checking on the heater all night long’.” Press Herald. December 18.