I Narrowly Escaped Foster Care When I Was 15

I owe an incredible debt to Huckleberry House.

I’ve always considered myself an open person, but this is not a part of my life I am comfortable talking about. It’s taken me several tries to get my thoughts out, but I believe that if my story can shed light on the need for our government to invest in social services, and soften the heart of even just one of our legislators,


The Forever Home

It is difficult for me to write about the topic of homelessness because it brings up many upsetting emotions and past experiences. But I will write anyway and simply accept the pain that will arise.

I ask myself what can I say about this issue that has not yet been said? What contribution can I make?  

I was homeless for 15 plus years. I have personal experiences with the injustices that often cause one to live without housing and I also am aware of the ongoing oppression that happens when you are living on the street.


They Have Millions, We Have What Is Right

I’ve been fighting an eviction since 2019. After living in my apartment for 20 years, always paying the rent on time, never bothering our landlords, they sold the building. Our rent-controlled unit paid off their mortgage (maybe several times over), and now in retirement they cashed in on San Francisco’s nouveau riche market.

The new buyer, of course, wants to kick us out. They are exploiting an Ellis Act loophole that allows for “owner-move-in” evictions—meaning that they can legally force us from our home as long as they or members of their family intend to live in it.


Their Original Faces

I have not been homeless in almost a decade. 

But my homelessness was deeply influenced by the fact that my mother was homeless before me, for many years.

I loved her so much. When your own mother hits the streets, you learn something. When she was homeless, a part of me was homeless.

That is actually how the Buddha sees homelessness: If you suffer, I can embrace that. This is not an embrace as if it is a burden.


Spirits on the Streets of San Francisco

To read more by this author, visit www.thepaltrysum.com

There are spirits on the streets. Spirits that walk the line between this world and the next. There are spirits that hide in the shadows. Yokai creatures that howl and bark and turn into tea kettles that do skateboard tricks along the Embarcadero, having lost their tightropes somewhere in Osaka in 1859. There are Angels. And there are demons. There is the ‘As Above’ and the ‘So Below’.


My Suffering Brother

I was homeless for 15 years, and most of that time was spent on the streets of Berkeley and Oakland. I spend time thinking about those days now. I think about those moments often. I ask myself, “What is the takeaway? What have I learned from those years sleeping behind bushes?”

I never took a vow of poverty. If I had been able to hold down a job and pay rent and function the way that one is expected to do,


Looking Back In Anger At Homelessness

Originally published on thepaltrysum.com

In the middle of the storm it is hard to see the wood for the trees, the wind from the rain or the good from the bad. I lived in that storm for most of my adult life, and it is only in the last week that I have been inside looking out at the storm from a position of relative safety that I have been able to take stock.


Tariq’s Narrative on Living and Surviving Homelessness

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

Editor’s note — we ran the first part of this piece in March of 2020, with the intention of running Part 2 in April. By April we were temporarily out of print as we grappled with how to continue the Street Sheet program safely while COVID raged in our communities. We’re so happy to be back in print twice a month, and to finally share Tariq’s story with our readers. Here is the full story:

I’m not sure where to begin and end this short tale about my homelessness.


A Light In The Dark

In the winter of 2013, I started working at a small Italian restaurant. It was close to where I lived in the Upstate NY town that I had moved to in 2012. My husband and I had left NYC after Hurricane Sandy  destroyed our home and everything in it. I was lucky to escape with just the clothes on my back and my little blind cat, Grumbles. Grumbles was a ginger cat that I had rescued when I found him on a Brooklyn street,


Tariq’s Narrative on Living and Surviving Homelessness

I’m not sure where to begin and end on this short tale about my homelessness. It’s just when you think it’s over the saga continues. So let’s start with when I first left home with no place to go. I was only 13 years old and I told my mama that I was a man, and she replied “get your ass out there and be a man. When yo’ mannish ass get yo’ own place you can do what you want to do.