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.

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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,

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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,

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The Pain of Immigration and Homelessness in San Francisco

The thought of it all was so amazing that it sent chills down my spine. America: land of plenty, a second chance, heaven on Earth. A place only seen on TV. Just the thought of visiting makes one do the unbelievable just to get there. Some use marvelous pictures of America as screensavers on their phones, and laptops, and as wallpaper and art  to decorate their homes. This makes most want to live in a fast-lane-life and fantasy world and try to do anything to get to America.

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Home: Robin Lee

Name: Robin Lee, 35 Date: 8 May 2021 Place: Dore Street Without a home: Off and mostly on since she was 18 

“I have been on the streets  on and off since I was 18,  more on than off so well  over 10 years. I started out in  Sonoma County where I grew  up with my mom. We lived  in a home. I choose to come  outside and be a rebellious  18-year-old.” 

“(Hardest thing),

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Seeking Greener Pastures, Only to Find Homelessness in the Bay Area

My name is Samel Leparan Ntiwuas. I live just down the street from the house where I grew up.

I grew up in Oakland and San Francisco. My folks succeeded in their own ways, at one point owning a home, which was once considered the very foundation of financial stability. Then, when life chose to give me a bitter test, I joined the surging number of unsheltered immigrant people who spill out around freeways,

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Home — James Jefferson

Name: James Jefferson

Age: 39

Date: June 17, 2021

Place: Florida and Treat streets

Homeless: 12 to 13 years

“Does a tent afford privacy? I can do whatever I want within the four walls, but in this situation it feels like you’re an endangered species. Like you’re being hunted really slowly and silently. You never know when they’re going to come and uproot you.

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Surviving Trafficking

Inside of California’s homelessness crisis, another crisis gets little attention: sex trafficking. In some cases, experiences of sex trafficking push people into homelessness. In other cases, being homeless makes them more vulnerable to sex trafficking. It can be a matter of life and death. 

Tonya is a woman in her 50s who lives in a tent in Sacramento. She shared her story of sex trafficking in her teens to bring awareness to an issue that is too often ignored because its victims are often already part of overlooked communities.

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How Muni Saved My Life

The author originally told this story before an audience in San Francisco as part of an evening of performance and storytelling sponsored by Tipping Point Community on November 18, 2021 at Manny’s, 3092 16th St. San Francisco. This story has been adapted and edited for your reading pleasure, and hopefully, inspiration.

I think of the places I’ve slept in in my life – buses, trains,

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I Am A Walking Miracle

It was a Friday morning, January 2020, when I woke up with a bad stomach and couldn’t keep down food. I was driven by my wife to get OTC stomach drugs, but the dispensing pharmacist suggested we take a blood sugar test. We drove to the nearby clinic and, upon administering the test, the doctors panicked. My sugars were so high the machine literally just indicated “High” as they were off the scale. They got a drip running to rehydrate me,

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