Karla

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Karla is homeless in San Diego, “America’s Finest City.” I really enjoyed talking to Karla. She is full of life and she shared important insights into homelessness. At 11:52 in her interview, Karla walks us through a day in the life of a homeless woman in San Diego.

A Day in the Life

  • You’re up at 5am Every Day; otherwise, you’ll be ticketed for sleeping on a sidewalk.
  • Then you have to run and stand in line at the day center for two hours because only the first 15 people in line receive all of the services like laundry and showers. Day Center opens at 6:30am, but staff doesn’t arrive until 8am. So you stand in line waiting.
  • Men can shower at 8:30am; Women can shower at 9:30am. But the showers are two blocks away. So you store your stuff, walk two blocks to get your shower, then come back to get your stuff.
  • At 10am, you have to go stand in line for food or you’ll never get a plate.
  • In the afternoon, there are a few hours to take all of your belongings to storage then go to the library. At the library, you can charge your phone, and possibly get computer access to look for employment and contact family. Most libraries limit access to 45 minutes.
  • At 4:30 pm, the day center has closed and the storage facility is about to close. If you have not picked up your possessions from the day center, they will place everything by the side of the road, and people will go through it. The priority is getting to your storage to get what you need for the evening.
  • It’s now 6pm. You put your stuff in the space where you feel safe to sleep and now you have to go find dinner. The choices are to stand in a food line or, in some parts of town, people will drive by and give out food.
  • You cannot set up your tent or sleeping bags until after 9pm or otherwise, you’ll be ticketed by police or go to jail.

Homeless people do not get a day off.

There are no vacation days. There are no sick days or personal leave. Homeless people in every city have to go through this type of routine just to survive each and every day. If you don’t, something bad will happen.

Someday, Karla would like to walk across the country to bring awareness to the issues of homelessness in America. She says there is a large group of people who believe homeless people are all drug addicts or lazy.

Karla explains homeless people often start using drugs simply to survive. “Many people are drug addicts because they don’t want to sleep. They don’t want to get raped, they don’t want to get mugged, they don’t want their stuff stolen. They are scared to sleep. People don’t choose drugs over jobs and housing.”

She also talks about the insanity of credit score requirements for low-income housing. Karla walks us through how her own credit situation snowballed after her husband had to take a severe pay cut when the company he worked for merged with another company.

She closes with three wishes: her children to have what they need; a roof over her and her husband’s head; and the ability to get others to understand what’s going on in the world – compassion is more important than status.


Invisible People

           

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