I Need My Own

I arrived in San Francisco from Anchorage, Alaska on Feb. 20, 2008. I stayed with the father of my children and my two sons. We stayed in my mother-in-law’s apartment in the Alemany projects. It was there I conceived my second son. I drank and did drugs during this time, while working for my brothers-in-law and my kids’ father through In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS). I went to jail due to domestic violence incidents between me and my partner at the time, while in our alcohol and drug addiction. I also attended Heald College in 2010 while living at this apartment. I destroyed the apartment but still, my mother-in-law allowed me to stay there. The police were called so many times that the San Francisco Housing Authority evicted us. I felt so angry at myself for my part in the eviction. We left with our luggage on a cold December night not knowing where to go. 

My then-partner andI ended up meeting with a couple he knew out in Bayshore. The couple took us in and we agreed we’ll pay rent and buy food with my food stamps. The couple had friends who came over almost every day to smoke meth. When we arrived, the two of us were addicted to alcohol and crack cocaine, but by the time we left their house we were both addicted to meth, too. Some parents brought their kids along when they came to smoke meth. It was a trap house. I left to call the police and turn myself in, because I was so tired of what was going on in that house. I had warrants so they were able to take me in. When I was released from jail, I went back to the house to look for my partner. The couple said he left. 

I went to 24th and Mission, where he had hung out since he was back in his twenties. I found him there after a thorough search, asking his friends and acquaintances. The two of us camped out on 24th and Mission for years until my former partner went to rehab and found an apartment in 2016. He was inside, but I was still strung out. Every time he saw me, he told me to go to treatment. I wasn’t ready. During that five-year period from 2012 to 2017, I was in and out of jail, and I had no hope. 

I had applied for public housing from the San Francisco Housing Authority back in 2008, but by the time my name was on top of the list, nearly a decade later, I was in jail. For years I was either in the hospital, on the streets, or in jail—my second home. In 2017, I got arrested for stalking a restaurant owner who helped me when I was homeless. The voices in my head said she was messing around with my dad and I thought it was real. I followed her to her restaurant, went inside and confronted her, demanding she stay away from my dad. When they arrested me, I caught another charge in jail for putting hands on a deputy. I was convicted, and they gave me three years in county jail. 

I was released to San Francisco General Hospital in 2020, where I applied for Supplemental Security Income. I called the Housing Authority to check the status of my housing application and they said I was put back on the waitlist because I hadn’t responded to their letters. They sent me to Clay House. From there I was taken to Napa State Hospital after I had an episode in the courtroom. I was diagnosed with schizophrenia by psychiatrists and was given psych medication. In Dec. 2020, I was put under conservatorship, which means the county appointed people to make decisions for me. 

I’m Christian, by the way. My solid faith in God moves mountains in my life. Not once did I blame Him for my trials and tribulations.

I relapsed at Clay House and I went to stay with my former partner at his apartment. I knew Clay House would report me to the police because I had gone AWOL after I was mandated by the courts to go to rehab. My social worker told me to go to Psychiatric Emergency Services (PES) to start the process all over at San Francisco General Hospital. My conservator begged me to go to PES, and said that if I refused I’d be sent back to jail. PES sent me back to the psych ward, and after a week I was sent to Hummingbird, a mental health respite center. Next I was sent to Grove Street where I went AWOL again. Every rehabilitation center I went to in San Francisco I never stayed. I just wanted to be with my partner, so I ended up at his house again. I did drugs and drank alcohol again. We fought and we had sex only when drunk and high. It was so unhealthy. I was so tired of arguing and of the voices in my head that screamed, “Get your own apartment!” so that I could do whatever I wanted. I wasn’t taking my medication so I was hallucinating and getting violent with him, accusing him of cheating on me. 

I ended up panhandling in the Tenderloin. One night, a woman approached me and bullied me. I didn’t say anything. I minded my own business. I saw her again the next night and told her I wanted to fight her. She came back late that night—I figured she was waiting for me to get high and drunk. I dropped her to the ground. She grabbed a crutch from an old man and hit me with it. I grabbed the crutch when all of a sudden a knife came out of nowhere! She stabbed my left hand. I took my bandana off and wrapped my hand with it. My partner showed up and took me home. He fixed me up with salt water and peroxide. 

I got arrested again in April 2021 and spent one night in jail, then they transported me back to the psych ward at SFGH. I was happy to see my favorite nurses. I left in July for my current home at a healing center in Lompoc! I am happy to be away from San Francisco so that I can stay focused on my recovery. Away from my former partner. He’s been showing me tough love and giving me ultimatums to stay sober: Maintain it or he will not marry me. I love it here. I discovered my gift of writing poems and short stories, and I am also working on my autobiography. 

Please pray for me that I succeed with my writing. I believe I will. It’s a gift from God. I am making a difference sharing my experiences and my voice with you. I have been calling the San Francisco Housing Authority to check the status of my one-bedroom apartment every month. Last week I applied for their emergency voucher through the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing at hsh.sfgov.org/services. A screener indicated I was eligible and so in February they will email me to see if I can come in for an interview if I’m chosen. I am planning on going back to Clay House. I see myself succeeding at this residential place. The area is good, without liquor stores or drug activities. There are hills which are good for exercise! I plan on staying there until I get housing. It’s hard to get housing in San Francisco or anywhere when you’re drunk and on drugs.

My brother, may he rest in peace and love, died from alcoholism. I am breaking the vicious cycle of alcoholism in my family. He was diagnosed with epilepsy. This tragedy opened my eyes to stop drinking for good. I am done! I have said this several times and relapsed but I am for real this time. I am dedicating my life to the Lord. God knows I’m trying. I want to live eternally. Being a Christian, refraining from sin, and staying clean and sober, I will be responsible and independent to keep and maintain my housing. I take the initiative while in treatment to make phone calls, communicate with the right people, and do the footwork to make things happen in my life. It’s hard but with hard work and a desire to help myself, I know I will succeed. With God, anything is possible. I know I will get my own housing soon. I’m a changed woman. I have been on the SFHA waitlist for public housing for 13 years now. I know that some people wait more than that. It’s ridiculous. That’s my story of housing status.