St. George, Utah is one the fastest-growing areas in the United States.
But just west of town lies a vast expanse of undeveloped desert.
It’s a place most locals only go to shoot targets or burn pallets.
But for Skip Stahr and Cory Stanley-Stahr, it’s home.
Housing is a challenge in St. George, and the couple juggles part-time jobs, trying to make ends meet.
Over the past two years, Cory and Skip — along with their 7-year-old-son, Seren — have been intermittently homeless.
After losing their second subsidized apartment, they decided to use tax return money to purchase a camper trailer.
They hoped it would create more stability for their son.
“We don’t qualify for benefits, we don’t qualify for programs, we work our asses off and we can’t get anywhere.


Between 1980 and 2017, the population of Washington County grew by more than 500%. 

Skip Stahr and Cory Stanley-Stahr are part of that growth. Cory moved to St. George from Florida in 2018 and her husband Skip followed a year later. 

They didn’t expect to become homeless. They shared a home in Florida, where they were both employed, but in St. George, where the housing market favors the affluent, they found unexpected challenges.

As the city’s population has expanded, the demand for housing has grown, too. Vacancy rates remain less than 1% and rents continue to climb. 

The one thing that hasn’t grown is the average wage, which has barely budged since 1980.

Over half the city’s renters are now considered “cost-burdened” and the waitlist for Section 8 subsidized housing is long. Over 800 people signed up for the roughly 250 vouchers offered by the St. George Housing Authority in 2017 — the most demand the agency had ever seen.

The four-person housing authority didn’t have the resources to handle more applicants and was forced to close the list. The agency’s director says they can’t reopen it until the spring of 2020. 

But St. George is taking steps to address its affordable housing challenges.
Earlier this year, the city made it possible for property owners to rent out “accessory dwelling units” like casitas and carriage houses. They also broke ground on Riverwalk Village, a 55-unit affordable housing development.

Without support, Cory and Skip can’t afford another apartment. So their trailer is the best they can do right now, but it is still a vulnerable space.
Whether they are living in the desert or in someone’s backyard, it’s always just a matter of time before they have to move on.
And living in a trailer, their son is still considered homeless.
Youth homelessness in America is defined by the National Center for Homeless Education as “individuals who lack a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence.”

Seren’s trailer home is included in that definition. 

Although both of his parents work, they cannot afford a stable home for themselves and their son in St. George, who is now a statistic in Washington County. 

The Utah State Board of Education reports that there were a total of 1,033 homeless students in the Washington County School District last year.


247 homeless students


766 homeless students


1033 homeless students

As Skip and Cory work to get their family in a more permanent home, they continue to wade through Cory’s “gray area” – making slightly too much to qualify for food stamps, but not nearly enough to afford their own apartment.