Essential Food and Medicine at Work on Wood Street

by Areli Hernandez

Until recently more than 4,000 homeless people had been living at a large encampment on Wood Street in West Oakland. That number has been reduced to around 50 by repeated sweeps led by CalTrans, which have displaced many former community members. A neighborhood nonprofit called Essential Food and Medicine, or EFAM, helps encampment residents by distributing healthy foods and medicines. The group’s main aim is to reduce homelessness in the Bay Area. 


A Preventable Tragedy

Coalition on Homelessness Statement on Officer-involved Double Fatality on May 19, 2022

Rising rents and a lack of stable, affordable housing have pushed many people into homelessness in San Francisco, like they have in cities up and down the West Coast. Living without stable housing is difficult and traumatizing, and it has long-term health consequences for those forced to endure it. With no door to lock and no safe place to rest, unhoused people live without the fundamental stability and safety a home provides.


Women and Children First … or Every Man for Himself?

Don’t Wait Until We Break!

On Wednesday May 4, homeless and formerly homeless moms, children, and individuals converged on San Francisco’s City Hall to deliver one message, loud and clear: “Our mothers need housing.” The action was designed and carried out by unhoused members, mostly moms.  In planning the action, they talked about how being homeless is literally breaking their mental health and came up with the slogan “Don’t Wait Until We Break”

Age-old sayings tell us to save “mothers and children first” in any crisis or catastrophe.


Love Letter to the Community

As a person who has lived and worked in the Tenderloin and Central South of Market communities for well over a decade, I have a message for my community about the recent actions of the San Francisco Redistricting Taskforce.

First, to my beloved Tenderloin & Central SoMa family and friends.  I’m sorry.  I’m sorry because I know you trusted me to be a voice for you in this process.  You asked me to fight to secure justice for you and to protect you from harm brought against you by a political and financial elite of this city. 


Kidnapping the Tenderloin through Redistricting

Every 10 years, the U.S. Constitution requires all residents to be counted through the Census. The Census occurs every decade, and once it concludes, the redistricting process begins. Redistricting is the redrawing of boundaries to ensure that U.S. citizens in a given state or city have a relatively proportionate number of constituents to serve in legislative offices. The redrawing of district lines is done at every level of legislative government: city, county, state and federal.


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,


Immigration and Homelessness

Only those affected by immigration and homelessness can understand what it is like. Seeking greener pastures in an attempt to survive has led to both positive and negative outcomes. Difficulties in life have led low-income African families to take more risks and seek greener pastures in an attempt to survive. My case was no different—times were too difficult to bear. I tried so many other things to make a living and support my mother, but economic challenges and high taxation rates made it impossible for me.


It’s Time

Seeing the mother with a young child in her arms broke my heart.  They were standing on a street corner on a cold early December day holding a cardboard sign that said, “Please help.”  

I stopped my car, rolled the passenger window down and asked, “What do you need?”  “Money for a motel room for tonight,” she said, looking into my eyes. Her young daughter’s eyes were dim above her runny nose. I gave the Mom $20 and said,


How Housing Choice Vouchers Saved My Family

In 2011, I was homeless and addicted to methamphetamines. That year, I found out that my girlfriend of 10 years, Amy, was pregnant with our son, Marley. We went to Jelani House, a rehabilitation program, to try to prepare for our son’s arrival. But when we showed up, the shelter wouldn’t let me bring my service dog inside. Instead, I had to stay on the street and try to get clean alone while taking care of our dogs,


Separating Facts from False Narratives of Shellenberger’s “San Fransicko”

A cop with an evil grin points a gun as bodies and tents go flying, and a figure in the foreground stares at their phone looking distressed.

On February 3, the author Michael Shellenberger climbed the fence of the City’s new Tenderloin Linkage Center to try and take photos of clients seeking services there. It was an attempt to “expose” the City for providing an outdoor space that allows drug use. Overdose rates have been skyrocketing, many attributed to the availability of fentanyl, combined with the deep despair the pandemic brought to unhoused San Franciscans who have been suffering through a lack of shelter,