Homeless No More

at 12:35 AM

Eight years ago, I told my daughter what to tell her preschool teachers if they asked where she and her mommy lived. "We're city camping," I instructed.

We lived in my minivan then. We had no family support or health care, mainly because I had been addicted to drugs for years. The only time I sobered up was when I was pregnant with my daughter.

After a few years of this, we moved out of the van and into an SRO hotel. I was still doing drugs. But another pregnancy was a reality check, as it can be for many addicted, homeless women. I'd been raised around addicts and made bad decisions. But pregnancy meant I was making bad decisions for someone else.

I got us into a family shelter and quit drugs. The shelter connected me to a local nonprofit where a case manager taught me about prenatal health and helped me make sure my son-to-be was as healthy and beautiful as any other.

Nancy helped me find housing and inspired me to apply for job training that led to a position doing community outreach. More than programs and jobs, though, Nancy gave me resolve and strength to stay in recovery and find purpose for myself and my family.

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Now, I help other homeless mothers. They are living on the streets all over the Bay Area, but now, it's even harder for them to get on their feet because programs like the one that saved me are government-supported.

Social services are first on the budget chopping block. It may just be a line on a list for policymakers and voters, but for a homeless mom, it's a bed for her family or the help she needs. For a newborn baby, it's the way out of the cycle of homelessness and addiction.

My daughter is 12 now. She loves sports and dance, and I encourage her to follow whatever her passion will be.

Behind the balance sheets and politics of government spending are the lives of real people. People who need help to be independent and construct lives of purpose and meaning, people like me and many others who ought not be forgotten.

With a Perspective, I'm Carrie Hamilton.

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