For Katarina Kabick, finding home has felt impossible at times. But despite obstacles that would have sunk a lesser person, she’s getting there.
It was raining last night and it’s like that water made my mind heavy. I couldn’t sleep thinking of the tents that seem to multiply under a new underpass every day. I couldn’t sleep thinking of the contrast between the gentrification high rise they’re building on Fourth Street and the people sleeping on concrete below. People I know, people I love, people I used to be.
I have been homeless, off and on, for at least five years. I was in one of those tents before. I slept in parks, on busses, in emergency rooms. Later, I slept in a car and a few motels. I was usually homeless, I just got really good at hiding it. And I never stayed in one place long. So I felt lucky and almost home when I found a youth shelter in Oakland, where I slept for a year.
If you want to address the housing emergency, start by forgetting everything you’ve been told about “homeless people.” People experiencing homelessness are unique individuals with our own stories. During my time of housing instability, I earned a Bachelor’s Degree from Mills College, with honors. Sometimes I still wonder how. If my story teaches you anything, I hope you remember the potential inside every person. Maybe you see mine now, but did you see it when you walked past my body on the steps of City Hall?
Now I stay in an SRO. I work as an advocate for systems change in child welfare, juvenile justice and homeless services. And against most odds, I am a graduate student at Berkeley, in the School of Social Welfare.
Somebody recently told me that I “never stop smiling.” I woke up in a bed today. I ate breakfast. I caught BART to one of the best MSW programs in the nation.
I will dedicate my career to keeping other foster youth off the streets, but for now I’m taking my life one day at a time, still trying to find home.
With a Perspective, this is Katarina Kabick.
Katarina Kabick is a youth advocate committed to the stability, freedom and dreams of foster youth.