Homeless at the Piano

by Andy Pope

When I was homeless, I would wake up on a couple pieces of cardboard, sometimes set over dirt. Sometimes I slept on a ramp on the side of a Catholic church. I would wake when the sky was getting light, then wander into a nearby AA fellowship. There I would hit the bathroom for a quick clean-up before grabbing a cup of coffee.

Make that three cups.


My Quest to Avoid Becoming Homeless

Defund Police. Invest in Community. House. Feed. Empathy. Listen. Teach.

by Jack Bragen

Our streets have become a dumping ground for unfortunate people who could not keep up with the expectations of society. In the bottom of our socioeconomic structure there is a giant trapdoor through which people can fall if they can’t keep pace. 

Disabled people who can’t keep up with full-time, professional work will often fall through this trapdoor. If their family is unwilling or unable to provide enough help,


Remembering Andy Howard

In Loving Memory Andy Howard

by Ian James

Andrew Howard passed away at the Henry Hotel on August 29 at the age of 58, the Coalition on Homelessness has learned. Andy was a volunteer at the Coalition who helped dozens of victims of illegal property confiscation to navigate the legal system in pursuit of justice. He was also a poet, entrepreneur, mechanic and kind-hearted soul. 

I met Andy outside his tent in front of the Ferry Building in June 2022.


‘You are killing us’: Lives Lost to Involuntary Displacement, aka Sweeps

Let This Radicalize You

by Robbie Powelson

Joel died on or around April 20, 2022 in a gutter in San Rafael.

I received the news, like most everyone from our encampment in Sausalito, around noon while about a quarter of our camp attended a court ordered settlement conference with the City of Sausalito.

Joel was 24 years old, with a big goofy grin. The last time I saw him, he was catching a pigeon in the center of the city-operated camp in Sausalito.


We’re Lower Bottom, Bitches

At Wood Street, a Bond No Bulldozer Can Destroy


The sun was high, beating down mercilessly on the volunteers and advocates, as if to say, “I’m on their side, and we don’t want you here.” They, in this case, were the entire Oakland Police (OPD) force, and an endless parade of Department of Public Works (DPW) workers under the command of Oakland city administrators Harold Duffy and LaTonda Simmons.


Chess and Chances

by Lisa Willis

“Lisa… LISA… LISA!!!!!”

Oh, hi… I was just daydreaming a little. Years ago, when I had been playing chess for just a few months, I came across an interview with Maurice Ashley, the only African American person with a Grandmaster title. At the time, he was merely an International Master. (A little trivia: the actual title is International Grandmaster, but Grandmaster for short.)

A Grandmaster can be summed up in the following way: Remember the scene in “The Matrix” when Neo downloaded Kung Fu?


Shattered Illusion of a Perfect City

by Lisa Willis

On February 2, 2021, my life took a sharp left turn, and I wasn’t ready for it! 

As I’ve written before, my mom and I struggled a lot with homelessness, and often relied on each other to survive. But we were doing ok. My mom was working from home, and I had a job at a casino. The pandemic lockdown was coming to an end, at least in Reno,


Blessings in Disguise: The Saga of Living and Surviving Continues

Street Sheet vendor Tariq Johnson stands in the Coalition on Homelessness office wearing his vendor badge on a landyard and grinning.

by Tariq Johnson

The saga of living and surviving homelessness continues. Just when I got comfortable in my stabilization room it seemed like my past hit me again, it was like déjà vu. The bed bugs started to come out the ceiling on the fourth floor where my room was, and when I turned off the lights at night they began to bite. I was shocked cuz I knew this would be the beginning of a long fight.


No CARE in the Courts

In the foreground we see a figure holding a sign that reads "Housekeys not Handcuffs", and a crowd is gathered. In the background San Francisco City Hall seems to loom.

Invest in housing and mental health services, not criminalization

The CARE Court Governor Newsom is backing is dangerous! Senate Bill 1338 would establish “C.A.R.E. Courts’’ in California. C.A.R.E Court has a $65 million starting cost and claims to combat houselessness and support people with mental health disabilities, but provides no funding for permanent supportive housing or mental health services.

CARE Court can require participants to take medication against their will. If they refuse medication for any reason,


Surviving Homelessness & How Chess Saved My Soul

In 1999 I started college, about 12 years late. In 1985 my family was in economic turmoil. My mother was raising two kids on her own, and when my grandfather, who had helped as much as he could, died when I was 14, our financial situation deteriorated rapidly. By 15, I was out of high school, and spent my teenage years alone in a motel room while my mom worked. Whenever I tried to find work,