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Housing crisis: Family camping in a tent while they search for affordable housing

The Martinez family has spent five weeks at Mid-South campgrounds after their housing plans fell through.

MEMPHIS, Tenn — A Florida couple moving to the Mid-South is experiencing the Memphis Housing Crisis first hand. 

For now, the couple and their two kids are living in a tent while they try and find an affordable house to rent. 

The Memphis area has seen large price hikes for rentals and purchases since the pandemic began.

"I was like, there is no way I am going to stay in the woods," said Tatiana Martinez.

Martinez, her husband Christopher, and their two children have been living at Memphis area campgrounds for the past five weeks while they look for a rental home. 

"We have our cooking area right there, so Chris grills here when he comes home from work and I keep his stuff set up there," said Tatiana Martinez as she gave us a tour of the campsite. "We keep fridge-rated stuff in our cooler for now, and this right here is our tent," said Tatiana Martinez.

The mother of two said the campsite has some comforts of home, such as water and electrical. The campground also has bathrooms, showers, laundry, and free ice. 

"Luckily God made me a strong man and gave me a strong wife," said Chris Martinez.

Chris Martinez said five weeks ago, this isn't how he expected this move would go. He left Florida thinking he had a job in Memphis and thought they had secured a place to live.

"I was dang, I got a job we got a house. Lets go," he said.

When they arrived in Memphis they discovered the apartment was not available. 

"I drove all the way up here from Florida. I got two kids. I got a wife. Now I don’t got know where to stay," said Chris.

"We're trying to stay around $800 or less, but when we are trying to look at reality, if it comes to $1000, we just don’t want it to go higher than that," said Tatiana.

The family said they have been looking for an affordable, safe place to live but have yet to find one. Either places are too expensive, have strict qualifying guidelines, or have no vacancies.

The ironic part is they came to Memphis in search of affordable housing after their landlord sold the Florida home they were living in. 

"We didn't know where to go. So we started looking online trying to see where the cheapest and everyone said Memphis would be, so we came here.," said Tatiana. 

"I make pretty good money but not enough to support all of us and pay $1,200 to $1,500 a month," said Chris. 

What they thought would be a short stay at the campground has turned into five weeks and counting.

"It’s rough right now but I got a car, I got a tent, and people have it a lot worse than I have how we have it," said Chris.

The Martinez family is trying to keep a positive attitude about this little adventure.

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"We got a tent. We’re not tentless, we’re homeless," said Chris.

The family has faith they will find a home. They just hope it happens before it gets cold. 

"I’m not discouraged. If anything, it’s making me want to work a little bit harder and it’ll all turn out," said Chris.