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Experience Life on the Streets of San Francisco [360 Video]

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There are more than 6,000 homeless people in San Francisco,  according to a 2015 report, and each person has a different story.

Cheryl Iversen, who goes by Tygrr, has been homeless since the 1990s. Jackie Juarez and her fiancé, Gustavo Rios, have been living in a tent in the Mission District for about two months.

Originally from Castro Valley, Iversen ran away from home at the age of 12 and hasn’t been back since.

“Homeless people are people who are down on their luck,” Iversen says. “Then there's girls like me, who were really seriously physically and sexually abused as children.” She is currently living near Indiana Street and Islais Creek Channel, but she’s planning to move shortly because she expects an influx of people to the area when the temporary Pier 80 shelter closes July 1.


Unlike Iversen, Juarez and Rios have been homeless for only a few months. The two were staying with relatives, but after a family fight they were asked to leave. During their first few weeks on the street, Juarez and Rios went to get TB tests (a prerequisite for access to drop-in centers offering showers). While they were gone, the couple say, the police took their belongings. “We lost everything,” Juarez says, including medicine and photos from her father, who passed away a few years ago.

Juarez receives about $900 a month from Social Security insurance because of a chronic lung condition. However, after paying for phone service, food, storage and other basic needs, she isn’t able to afford the deposit for a place to rent. Juarez and Rios have been living in a tent near the U-Haul facility at Alameda and Bryant streets for the last several weeks.

Rios does short-term jobs when possible, like helping to move furniture and to unload the trucks that come to U-Haul, but he worries when he leaves Juarez alone. “Even in daytime, lots of stuff happens around here,” he says.

“I feel like giving up,” Juarez says. “Every day we tell each other that we’ve got to make it through, and be strong for each other.”

Iversen, who is 48, says she doesn’t think or hope much about the future, but she’s considering going indoors this winter. “My bones are getting a little bit old to be so close to this concrete every night,” she says.

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