Many of us honored our mothers this past mother’s day by acknowledging the sacrifices they made raising us, how much work they put in to ensure that their children had the best lives possible. Mothers of homeless children feel a special pain worrying that their children will not flourish. In the daily struggle to survive, motherhood requires strength and bravery that those who live inside cannot begin to imagine.
In light of an astonishing upswing in the number of homeless children experiencing homelessness, the Coalition on Homelessness, along with homeless parent members, gathered on the steps of City Hall to demand housing and shelter on May 10th, which is Mother’s Day in Mexico. In San Francisco, 1 in 25 SFUSD children are experiencing homelessness and they have had enough.
San Francisco is at a critical juncture, where financial pressures are pushing low-income and impoverished San Franciscans out of their homes and communities. As rents are skyrocket more and more families are at risk of homelessness. San Francisco has an estimated 3,300 homeless children in San Francisco, based on SFUSD data.
“I am a homeless mother and I am tired.” said Patricia Alonzo. “It’s affecting my children—them going to school and not being able to focus on just school, they’re focused on moving, and on having a place to call home.”
Homeless children have lower academic achievement overall, and less than half met state proficiency standards last fiscal year. In addition, over half are held back for one grade – 22% for multiple grades. Homeless youth are also 87% more likely to drop out of school.
The group gathered in front of city hall and demanded that the Mayor fund an infusion of $14.8 million in new and baseline funding for each FY 2018-19 and $15.7 million in FY 2019-20 to assist an additional 2,500 homeless people and households. This budget proposal attempts to both prevent homelessness and create exits out of homelessness through almost 300 new housing subsidies, while ensuring an adequate emergency services system for those forced to remain on the streets.
After the protest, the group went inside to visit elected officials. Their first stop was the Mayor’s office. Instead of welcoming the families and their children, the Mayor’s office quickly locked the doors all the way down the hallway so no one could enter. They didn’t even bother to send out a representative.
At the different Supervisor’s offices, many offices sent out Legislative Aides, but some did not even bother to do that. Overall the spirit of the action was upbeat, after homeless leaders stepped up and spoke directly to power, they were never discouraged but buoyed to fight for more housing.
One young man, named Daniel, spoke about how he is suffering with his mother in a place with no bathroom. Another young woman, named Carien spoke about how wrong it is that the Bayview does not have a full service shelter, and how challenging the lack of adequate bathrooms were in her own shelter.
There will more opportunities to join homeless parents and other folks impacted by homelessness coming up at the Board of Supervisors June 19th at 10:00 am Room 250 all day budget hearing.