As part of the SF Homeless Project we’re once again concentrating coverage around housing affordability this June. Here's a first-person account of what it's like to be a grad student and live in an RV in the Berkeley Marina.
My name is Yesica Prado and I am 26 years old. I moved to the Bay Area four years ago from the South Side of Chicago, but I was born in Mexico City. I came to live at the Berkeley Marina after my second semester of graduate school.
I had bounced around the bay, chasing stories while studying at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. I worked the night shift at Whole Foods in San Francisco, and went to school during the day for a year before deciding to quit the job, the rent and the long commute, and buy an RV last summer.
I lost my housing in San Francisco more than a year ago after not keeping up with rent, but I never considered myself homeless. Being on the streets gave me a mission. It helped me stay alert about what really happens in our cities.
I would get shamed at school sometimes for not reading the news, but living from phone charge to phone charge forces compromises. I used the power on my cellphone to navigate the cities, hunting for story sources, food, restrooms and gyms to complete daily tasks and homework.
Today I'm part of a community of four families, including nine children, living out of eight vehicles in a parking lot at the marina.
As humans, we all want to be directors of our own dream. Our relationships with one another help us grow: financially, physically, spiritually and morally.
We have created a network of neighbors, family, friends, comrades. The Berkeley Marina Friends on Wheels is an example of how poverty is a shared experience in the world, regardless of education, color or nationality.