Serenity is 20 years old, pregnant, and living in a tent homeless in San Diego. She shares that one of the reasons she’s turned away from shelters is that there are no bottom bunks available, and because she is pregnant, she cannot sleep on a top bunk. Often, shelters are for men or women, and those that are able to help pregnant women are full.
We were able to connect Serenity to a street medicine team. While I was on the phone with the nurse practitioner, she told me they are seeing more pregnant women out on the streets. We featured four street medicine teams in California here. They will be able to help Serenity with medical care and connect her to social services that will hopefully get her off the streets. In this interview, Serenity shared she has trouble getting to doctors, so medical care was the first crisis that needed to be solved, and street medicine teams are the very best.
The day we were at this homeless camp, police, and sanitation were doing a homeless sweep. Mayor Todd Gloria continues to pass laws that make homelessness a crime. Part of his containment strategy is aggressive sweeps. Homeless people are given three hours to move all of their belongings, or they lose everything. In the hot sun, Serenity was forced to move to the other side of the street only to have to move back again. We documented San Diego’s cruel criminalization of homelessness here.
This is no longer about housing and homelessness. Politicians have weaponized the criminalization of poverty for their political agendas. Support for housing as a solution to end homelessness decreases every day, while support for the criminalization of homelessness increases. This is all while homeless numbers are skyrocketing. It’s horrible that a young pregnant woman is sleeping in a tent, but if we don’t take action now to prevent and solve homelessness, we will see more women and the elderly outside.