Author: Streetsteam

East Bay Gives

East Bay Gives is a 24-hour online giving blitz supporting Bay Area nonprofits. We hope you’ll show support for our Hayward Team by donating.

On Thursday, May 4, 2017, East Bay Gives aims to mobilize Bay Area residents to give $5 million to support hundreds of nonprofits, and Downtown Streets Team is one of them.

Just last year, we launched a Team in Hayward, and since then we’ve had terrific success in rebuilding people’s lives. So far, 3 people have secured employment and our Team Members have collected and removed over 6,600 gallons of trash and debris from Hayward’s city streets. Wow!

To continue our work, we need support from the community. It takes everyone’s collaboration to end homelessness, and it begins in your town.

What To Do on May 4

  1. Give on May 4, 2017, in honor of your Hayward Streets Team.  If you want to make an even greater impact, give during the 6-7pm hour and we could win $3,000!
  2. Join us for a Mixer. Get to know your Hayward Streets Team.

    World Famous Turf Club
    Thursday May 4, 2017
    5 – 7 pm
    22519 Main Street
    Hayward, CA 94541

Your Gift Helps People Just Like Caleb

A refugee from Liberia, Caleb knows struggle and loss better than any of us ever should. Yet, he chooses to look forward with optimism and brighten the lives of the people around him. With assistance from Hayward Economic Development Division, we discovered job openings at Mission Foods. Thrilled by this opportunity, Caleb decided to apply — and guess what? He got the job and is now working as a Machine Operator!

As well as bringing pride and new purpose to his life, this new job will also allow Caleb to take care of himself and his ailing mother. He is filled with deep gratitude for all of those who supported him on this journey and wants to give a shout-out to the City of Hayward, Bad Business Model Bikes for providing him with new wheels so he can travel to work more easily. He also wants to thank his fellow Streets Team Members and Staff for their support and encouragement. We are so excited for Caleb’s success, he is a true inspiration to all who know him!

Give today to help end homelessness in Hayward.

 

Vote to Help us Launch a Team in Mountain View

Downtown Streets Team has been recognized as a FINALIST for Inspire Mountain View, a collective of tech companies and committed community partners who are offering significant dollars to preserve the diversity of the community and strengthen the quality of life in Mountain View.

Beginning today thru April 21st, we are asking for your VOTE to expand our model of ending homelessness to the community of Mountain View, which has seen a 99% increase in unhoused individuals between 2013- 2015.

What $100,000 Will Help Us Accomplish

Through this $100K funding ask, we will launch our eighth Streets Team and offer employment opportunities in the field of culinary arts, serving approximately 13% of the community’s homeless population.

There are 8 total finalists in the $100K category, and the PUBLIC determines the winner!

 

Make Your Voice Heard

 1. VOTE today! (it only takes a moment)

2. SHARE with family, friends, social networks.

3. VOTE only once in the $100K category

Thank you for helping us rebuild lives through the dignity of work. With your vote today, we’re closer to ending homelessness.

Providing Jobs, Housing and Hope

Written By Mayor Edwin M. Lee

If someone ventured down to the Dolby Laboratories headquarters on Wednesday, they would have immediately noticed a large group of people decked out in brightly colored yellow t-shirts. These individuals were impossible to miss, and they had every right to be recognized. They were all members of the Downtown Streets Team, and each of them were working to turn their lives around.

The Downtown Streets Team is a non-profit that connects jobs and housing opportunities with men and women dealing with homelessness. The organization, which partners with public agencies and private companies, marked its one-year anniversary in San Francisco on Wednesday, and we were happy to take part in that celebration.

Through the Downtown Streets Program, each participant is given a job cleaning and maintaining city streets. Since the launch of the initiative, 28 residents have received jobs and 13 have been placed into supportive housing. Additionally, they have helped remove some 206 tons of debris from San Francisco’s streets. The program recipients enjoy the benefits of employment and housing, and City neighborhoods gain from having cleaner streets and sidewalks.

Most of the cleanup efforts to date have focused on the Civic Center and Union Square — with special attention devoted to areas linking Market Street to City Hall. Following the success of those endeavors, the Downtown Streets Team plans to expand to the Tenderloin and other neighborhoods.

The initiative is able to grow due to the support from partners such as Dolby, which provides funding for the Downtown Streets Team. This partnership is another example of the city working together to pursue policies that benefit all our residents.

That was our mindset when we started the Central Market/Tenderloinproject, an initiative that invests in new public spaces, helps small businesses and supports art installations in the area. The Downtown Streets Team complements those efforts. It creates housing opportunities, offers resources and services to homeless residents, and works on addressing quality-of-life issues in San Francisco’s neighborhoods. That mission is carried out with compassion, dignity and respect.

I can see firsthand how much it means for the workers to take part in the Downtown Streets Program. They are proud to have jobs, and are looking forward to finding a place to call home. Every San Franciscan deserves to have that feeling, and we are working hard to make that a reality.

This post was written originally for Medium. View the original post.

City of Sunnyvale Welcomes the Street Café That’s Ending Homelessness

 

It’s coffee with a karma catch: order your cappuccino at Downtown Streets Team’s (DST) KARTMA Street Café and know you’re paying it forward, because every cup purchased goes towards ending homelessness. The 100 percent electric coffee cart employs individuals transitioning out of homelessness and equips them with practical work experience and a competitive wage. March 22 marked the launch of its new location on the plaza of the Sunnyvale Public Library.

To commemorate the grand opening, City Manager Deanna J. Santana welcomed the crowd while Vice Mayor Gustav Larsson enthusiastically cut the ribbon. Also in attendance were Sunnyvale council members Larry Klein and Russ Melton, as well as Thea Smith Nilsson from Microsoft, who presented five donated Surface devices for KARTMA point of sale technology. DST Staff and Team Members filled the crowd to celebrate this milestone for the nonprofit.

“A simple suggestion by City employees to offer coffee service at City Hall transformed into helping some of our most vulnerable community members gain valuable job skills,” said Deanna J. Santana, City Manager. “That’s not only great karma, it’s an inspiring example of Sunnyvale’s approach to service – collaborating with our community to find creative solutions that meet multiple needs.”

Bailey DeCarlo, who was formerly homeless and now proudly works as Cart Lead for the KARTMA Sunnyvale location, spoke about how she joined the team because she dreams to one day open her own café. She expressed that working at KARTMA is helping her reach long-term goals.

 

KARTMA is also on a green mission to up-cycle former street vendor vehicles. Several recently secured donated carts will be retrofitted for future KARTMA locations in other Bay Area cities. DST’s vision for its first social enterprise is to have a unique, localized KARTMA Street Café in each community to extend more job opportunities and amplify its impact.

“DST’s mission to offer hope and a pathway to recover from homelessness is at the center of everything KARTMA does,” said Maegan Lillis, Manager of Strategic Initiatives at DST. “We’re offering the community a way to be a part of this with their daily cup of coffee.”

Thousands of daily Library patrons and nearby city employees will now have a new source of refreshments from a business they can be proud of in their community, and one that’s helping them address the needs of their neighbors who are experiencing homelessness.

The cart originally piloted in the City of San Jose in 2014, and since then seven Team Members have used the platform to gain barista and customer service skills. They encouraged DST to partner with the City of Sunnyvale to bring the cart to another community where Team Members have had success. City employees learned about KARTMA as they were exploring the idea of a coffee service to expand amenities at City Hall. Sunnyvale and DST already work closely together to support housing services in the community, making the partnership a natural fit and a great collaboration.

The cart will serve coffee and other non-caffeinated beverages on the Sunnyvale Public Library plaza, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m.- 3:30 p.m.

All photos are courtesy of The Family Album Project. View the full gallery.

 

SCC Realtors Foundation Donates $25,000

 

Earlier this week, the Santa Clara County Realtors Foundation (SCCRF) surprised all of us at Downtown Streets Team (DST) when they presented a $25,000 check at an evening event hosted by Santa Clara County Association of Realtors.

 

 

“Myself and Annette Hancock, an extraordinary volunteer and long-time board member, were overwhelmed by the foundation’s generosity, and Annette was brought to tears, ” said Meta Townsley, Chief Development Officer of DST. “We are greatly appreciative of our new partnership with the Santa Clara Association of Realtors.”

 

By working hand-in-hand with housing organizations and property managers, we have successfully secured permanent housing for over 600 people across the Bay Area.  Building these partnerships is essential to our success in ending homelessness in our lifetime. The SCCRF’s commitment to helping us reach our goal is significant and will bring hope to many people who are ready to get off the streets for good.

SCCRF is dedicated to bringing real estate together by investing in our neighborhoods with compassion, foresight and action.  DST’s check was one of two checks presented that evening.  Family Supportive Housing, a nonprofit dedicated to ending family homelessness, was also presented with a $25,000 check.

View the official press release.

 

San Jose Mayor Liccardo Helps Remove 162 Bags of Trash

Do you notice the trash and debris alongside San Jose’s freeway on and off-ramps (also known as gateways)? It’s a noticeable issue, and our unhoused Team Members and San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo are working hard to clean it all up, one gateway at a time.  There are 18 gateways leading into downtown San Jose, and we are determined to have a team beautifying each one.

Photo Credit: The Family Album Project

We kicked off 2017 with a hugely successful clean-up alongside one of the gateways, near Vine/Almaden in San Jose. Mayor Liccardo joined us from 9am-12pm and altogether we filled 162 bags of trash! ABC7, KCBS, NBC Bay Area and KSTS joined us for the clean-up. View more photos of the clean-up.

Watch the NBC Bay Area story:

 

Photo Credit: The Family Album Project

 

Mayor Liccardo spearheaded the San Jose Gateways project in partnership with Downtown Streets Team to provide an opportunity for corporations to be socially responsible, while also creating a pipeline for our unhoused, job-seeking Team Members to build work skills and feel like part of their community again by picking up trash and debris. Our board members, staff and Team Members had a blast beautifying our city alongside Mayor Liccardo.  He’s one rockin’ mayor!

Photo Credit: The Family Album Project

Become a San Jose Gateway Sponsor and Help End Homelessness

Currently, there are seven gateways sponsored by one of the following corporations: Ernst & Young, Comcast, Kaiser Permanente, Adobe, SunPower, Samsung, SuperMicro, Nexenta, TiVo, Signature Flight, Pinger, Caliva and Boston Properties.  We are seeking sponsors for the remaining 10 gateways.  Each sponsorship provides six unhoused individuals with the tools they need to find employment and housing, while also helping fulfill their basic needs. View the different gateway locations here. 

Have questions about becoming a sponsor? Contact Shannon Robinson, San Jose Project Manager at srobinson@StreetsTeam.org or (650) 847-0523. Learn about sponsorship opportunities.

 

Photo Credit: The Family Album Project

Volume X – Hayley Benham-Archdeacon, DST Coordinator

By Hayley Benham-Archdeacon, DST San Francisco Coordinator

Something our Project Director says is if we could just get everyone in the room with our Team Members, we would end homelessness. I fully believe that. They are the most human humans. I don’t know how else to say it.

While of course the breadth of personalities and life stories is as wide as possible across our Team, I can speak in some generalizations: our Team Members have been through it. They’ve had the worst cards dealt to them but show up on our doorstep ready to play their hand the best they can. They have a sense of humor about life and themselves, and they’ve used it to survive. Our Team Members are embodiments of perseverance and redemption, the ultimate human qualities. How could you not love them! I couldn’t imagine anyone placing judgment on our Team Members after taking the time to hear their stories. You’d realize how much human potential we are letting go unrealized, and you’d work as hard as DST to help our people into lives of stability.

The start of my time with Downtown Streets Team came with an expiration date. I knew I would show up for a few months, inevitably bond with charming and unique Team Members, and then leave full of regret. That was the plan.

I have a policy background, and have always admired DST from that perspective. There’s this forever unanswered question in political science: does culture influence policy, or does policy influence culture? I’ve always viewed DST’s work as filling a policy gap: there are policy systems for homeless people, and systems for employed and housed people, but nothing connecting the two. We have shelter systems and free meal programs that get people off the street and somewhat fed day by day, but keep unhoused individuals in the same status of life. Then we have systems that continue to privilege the already privileged: when you apply for a job, they ensure sure you’ve never committed a crime or experienced large lapses in employment. If you want an apartment, they check your credit score and housing history. These policy systems keep everyone where they are, and as a result keep most resources and opportunities inaccessible to homeless individuals, even if they’re at a point in life where they’re ready to make a change. You can’t just tell a person sitting on the sidewalk to get a job when as they formally stand, institutions offer no bridge from the street to a stable life. DST is that middle ground, the system that gives displaced people steps to elevate themselves off the street.

It’s the difference between mitigation and reform: we do need beds and meals to ease short-term suffering, but we can’t rely on shelters and free food as transformative agencies. We can’t only treat the symptoms and not treat the cause.

Many of us think homelessness isn’t relevant to our lives. There is us, and then there is “the homeless,” that one thing that happens to that one group of people. But realistically, all paths lead to the street: mental health, substance use and job loss, sure, but also domestic violence, freak accidents, hospital bills, the end of relationships, or even the loss of a bank card and an apathetic landlord.

Homelessness isn’t good for anyone. Not to diminish the experiences of homeless folks themselves, but it isn’t easy to walk by that much human despair everyday. Even if you pretend you don’t see it, it gets in. It takes energy to block yourself off from compassion, to look at someone in suffering and tell yourself not to feel bad because they must have done something to deserve their circumstance. I understand why people do this. We think we’re saving ourselves the time and mental wellbeing it’d take to worry about those people as if they’re human, but really, it’s taking more out of us in the long run. Shutting down the compassionate parts of ourselves takes a human toll on everyone.

But I get why it’s hard to let yourself feel fully if you also feel like you have nowhere to go with those feelings: it’ll do no good to simply feel bad in the face of a problem as insurmountable as homelessness in San Francisco.

We can rightfully blame a lot of systemic failures for mass homelessness. HUD, Reagan. But as individuals, we can change things by changing our priorities. Basically I’m tired of those conversations. I’m tired of looking for who to blame, and I’m interested in who will help.

Before my time here, I remember thinking of homelessness as just another social issue, almost a fringe cause. “Homelessness” wasn’t the clickbait that got me. I was caught up in the newest, freshest social issues, how crazy Trump was getting and what the hell Rachel Dolezal was thinking. Homelessness didn’t appeal to me because it felt like a permanent problem, something I could never do anything about.

I see that people want to change things, and they want to have a part in it. Especially people with social, racial and economic privileges in San Francisco: they feel a heightening self-consciousness, and want somewhere to go with it.

Right now, I mostly see this expressed in discussions about how movie casting responds to race, or how not enough women are CEOs of the corporations we don’t even like. These are all valid observations, and legitimate reflections of larger systemic patterns of marginalization, and they all deserve a conversation. However, I feel the need to say those talks do not on their own qualify as effective political action. Our Team Members don’t give a shit about those discussions. The truth is I care more about that than they do, and it’s because I have the luxury of thinking that far removed and symbolically about “the system.” Anyone having a conversation about movie casting is doing so from a place of privilege (myself one thousand percent included) and that type of discourse is very different than action.

What would happen if instead of only divulging in symbolic conversations about race or gender when it has to do with HBO’s Girls, we actually all mustered up the courage to spend the same amount of energy looking at homelessness, epidemical drug abuse, and mass incarceration? What if conversations about homelessness became as common in your Twitter feed as intricate discussions about the new Ghostbusters? Again, let those Tweets flow, but please realize the homeless individuals we work with will not thank you for it. They’re too occupied trying to renew their shelter bed, figuring out where they’ll get their next meal, making sure they have tampons when they need them, and deciding if they can risk going to sleep that night without getting their stuff stolen.

Say we do immerse ourselves in those realities. Say we weren’t satisfied with only discourse and decided to spend some time in real life tackling reality. Right now we’re dipping our toe in, but we won’t take a step.

What if we all take a leap of faith that it would be worth it, because if we truly commit ourselves to change things as large and all-encompassing as homelessness, the rest will follow. If we pick people up out of the cracks in the system that leave them without homes and means to sustain themselves, marginalization in entertainment, employment, and everywhere else will begin to correct itself. 

It can start with you in your city, on your daily commute. If you’re not happy with the human strife you see everyday, make it a priority. You don’t have to quit your job and work for DST, but you can devote your time to funnel resources to organizations tackling the realities you care about. No one has to be just one thing in life: just because you’re a tech employee doesn’t mean you can’t also organize events or fundraisers to raise money for organizations doing the work. It doesn’t mean you can’t make demands from your representatives to prioritize homelessness as a policy issue, along with affordable housing and income inequality generally. If that all feels weird and out of your depth, I recommend talking to some of your community members who are living on the street.

Seriously. Say hi. Stop for a minute on your way home. Ask them what they think about things, ask them how they feel about their city, because hint: more than 70% of unhoused individuals in SF are from here, and they probably know more about the City than most of your fellow commuters. Hold community meals inviting the folks you see staying outside your home or work every day to come eat. Don’t be scared. It’s not worth being scared.

Seriously, respond. If you don’t like seeing homelessness everyday, respond to it everyday. Don’t go home from work, win a Facebook comment war, go to bed, wake up and walk by the same homeless people you saw yesterday and not respond. That person doesn’t know you just raked a racist over the coals on the internet. You didn’t help them at all. Go ahead, have the Facebook talks, but then do the real life walk.

Homelessness is becoming a cultural centerpiece in San Francisco. It’s undeniable now, by nature of its intense visibility and ever-encroaching presence in our communities. Instead of letting it creep into our consciousness as that big problem that will never go away and letting “homelessness is really bad there” become San Francisco’s narrative, why don’t we take it upon ourselves to be the San Francisco that took control of its homelessness problem, something we all have a role in. We can be the city that came together across all social strata and industries and started demanding responses. Let’s do this World War II manufacturing style, and get behind a common goal we can all reasonably agree on: get human beings out of the elements and into lives of stability so they can fully develop themselves the way so many of us have been lucky enough to do.

San Francisco is home to the richest history, world-changing innovations, and the smartest, most conscious and action-oriented humans in the world. If we let ourselves take on this fight, if we make the fight for a human’s right to a life out of poverty part of San Francisco’s culture, with signature policymakers and well-backed agencies to represent that, we can solve the human crisis pervading all our lives.

If it can happen anywhere, it’s San Francisco.

LinkedIn Interns Say ‘Hi’ and Raise 10,000 to End Homelessness

In late March 2016, Downtown Streets Team launched its work experience model for unhoused community members in San Francisco, a city that we know and love for its diverse, creative, and charmingly gritty culture. Three months after our launch, we were thrilled to have the attention of the largest employment oriented social networking company in the world, LinkedIn.

Working with LinkedIn’s Interns for Good was a no-brainer for us. In fact, we’re humbled to admit that Downtown Streets Team attempted to make our own employment-oriented social networking site a few years back. Yeah, that failed. Not just because we’re social workers making a poor attempt at engineering, but because access to technology has drastically improved for the unhoused community enough to make LinkedIn a viable resource for folks living on the streets. There couldn’t be a more exciting time to launch our non-profit in one of the most innovative and tech-savvy cities in the world.

San Franciscans know life isn’t golden for everyone in the City. Everyday we’re faced with over 8,000 people experiencing homelessness, and while the problem at large is so visible, the individuals themselves seem to blend together. It takes a conscious effort to remind ourselves the folks we see struggling are people, not just “the homeless,” and that everyone has a different path that led them to the street.

In consultations with our Team Members, we asked them what the most distressing aspect of homelessness is. Their responses were not as you might expect, the lack of adequate shelter, food or a sense of safety. We were told that the most difficult part of homelessness is the lack of acknowledgement from other people. This led to San Francisco Downtown Streets Team’s Just Say Hi campaign.

LinkedIn’s Interns for a Cause took our concept and ran with it. They demonstrated an impassioned and thorough understanding of our goal to end social hesitation around acknowledging homeless community members. People want to help end homelessness, but they don’t know how. Everyone can start by simply saying hi. The interns did exactly they: they saw our Team Members (homeless community members) cleaning the street, and asked who they were.

From that first interaction, the interns designed a program where coworkers could send a simple hello to a fellow employee accompanied with a message and a treat in return for making a donation. More than 300 employees participated, raising $2,755 for us! This program was a proof of concept for us: when asked to be thoughtful and reach out to someone, employees were inclined to take action and make a connection. Once someone received a Just Say Hi message, they were inspired to send one themselves. It was even worth a donation on their part. You can’t put a price on human connection, and this program proved that positivity breeds positivity. This is something we’ve seen in our work as well: when you start treating someone with dignity, they will rise to the occasion. The interns’ Just Say Hi message program proved positive attention yields real results.

With continued organized efforts, the LinkedIn interns in partnership with the LinkedIn for Good team raised over $10,000 for our San Francisco Team. Given the success of the campaign, we hope to replicate it across our organization.

With this funding, we can grow our Team and provide more services to more people. Our San Francisco Team is the fastest growing of the seven branches DST has established across the Bay Area. In the past six months, we have helped 22 individuals find permanent employment, and another 16 find temporary employment. For many of our folks, this was a huge step. Having not worked for years, many Team Members at first don’t have confidence they could return to work. However, after a weekend gig cleaning up after Outside Lands and San Francisco Pride, they realized they do have what it takes to get a job, and began putting out applications and setting-up a LinkedIn profile.

When the LinkedIn Interns saw our Team and reached out to just say hi, we had no idea where it would lead. Here we are, together taking steps towards ending homelessness one person, one human connection and one job at a time.

VOL IX – Gregory Mills, San Francisco Graduate

greg-mailchimp

 

Hi, I’m Gregory Mills…

Can we do it like Paul Harvey? I just think it sounds more dramatic…

February 23 1977, I joined the Airforce with a six month old child. I was looking for something better career-wise, instead of being a janitor, my pride was too strong. I started as a mechanic, worked there for 18 years. Met some great friends. One of my friends there was Jaqueline’s Bouvier Kennedy’s cousins. We got stationed in Denver together, and we ate all of the hamburgers in the city. I lived in Korea for three years, great shopping if you get a chance. It was okay, but I was a family man. I was sitting there, thinking about how I was missing home. I was trying to do my time, I was counting every day, ready to go back home.

I met my best friend in the world, he was from Harlem. He brought this creativity out of me. I was kinda closed in, and he was kinda awkward, but we were goofing around and we started writing on people’s door. We had fun at night, we would go downtown to party, drink, laugh, and right before we would go in the base he would tap me on the shoulder and said “ I gotta go” and this man would disappear into the darkness.

I made a lot of friends, I wish I kept in contact. Sometimes I happen to see one or two of them in the Tenderloin. Keep in mind this is not a place I wanted to end up, but then you get the feeling, “Okay, I’m not the only one to get down this road.” 

I retired early from the Airforce, I felt I was the missing entity in my Black family. There was a need for a Black male to keep some control in the community. So I moved back to SF, in Visitation Valley. When I got home, I represented this authority that my wife and kid did not want anymore… it caused a lot of problems.

One day my son tried to kill me. I had a 25th year anniversary Mustang. My son stole my car. I tried to discipline him. And then he stole it again.

I went back home to my mother’s house; it was like God intervened and put me back in my mom’s presence. I would listen to her stories, learn different things I did not know about her. Learn some cooking skills. At times, I questioned whether she loved me, but of course, she always did.

I remember the day I left for Korea, she said, “You want me to come to the airport with you?” Then it hit me. She started crying, and I thought, “I’ve never been this far away from you in my life.” I’ve been called a mama’s boy by so many girlfriends. She was everything to me. I learned a long time ago what loneliness is — and I know what being alone is, and it’s not the same.

My mother was my anchor. When my mom passed away, I started to feel like a ship without an anchor. It’s easy to burry your feelings in drugs. I think I was trying to kill myself. I started smoking crack. I was kinda like a soft smoker, I never stole from nobody. I was smoking but I was confused. I did not know what I was doing. One day, it seemed like I was on the verge of dying and I promised God I would not do it no more.

I ran into this lady who saw something in me, and helped me out. She would not allow anyone in my circle, so I couldn’t get out of it.

I worked for the Internal Revenue Service at the time. I did make it to work everyday, for eight hours a day. I was about to be hired for a permanent job, but then they brought up that I was ex-military and that I had a lot of guns, and they got paranoid. They did a warrant check and they found a firearm in my briefcase and some marijuana. It was a registered gun and I did not want to leave it at home at home, cause my niece was staying there. I got arrested for the night. I spent the night in jail, and when I went in front of the judge, he saw I was a good man, and he released me.

I had a two-year probation and had to stay in a special house. I was also supposed to stay away from drugs, and they put me in this area where I had to pass hundreds of people taking drugs on a daily basis. That was an everyday battle. All of the evil, I ended up right in the midst of it. Crack dealers everywhere. No matter how hard you try, you are always going to remember that drug, cause it can pull you right back into it.

But I managed to stay off. I got off probation. I don’t have any problem with the police. But I have a problem when they just call me, “Hey come here…” because I’m Black. With my military background, it feels unfair. I put my ass on the line, and the cops just have their jobs and act like they are heroes. I even had to file a complaint against an officer who harassed me. I’m a veteran, I don’t appreciate being talked to like that.

Calvin is one of my oldest friends. I saw him one day on the street, he was hustling, and he told me about the Downtown Streets team. I looked into it, did the process, signed up. Then I got accepted to the Team. I had to clean up stuff, picking up needles, trash, next to people who are using needles. It was hard. 

Fortunately, through the Street Team, there are three other guys that I’m friends with. We support each other, look after each other. All of this is due to DST. I’m a great person, but I don’t always let it show. Me and these guys are so close. One of the guys just got a permanent job, and we were so happy for him. I’m not his father, but to see his smile, it’s priceless.

Then the need to work came, for my pride, to feel busy, and to make ends meet. A father does not like to see his family fall apart. My daughter started having medical problems, and that’s what put me back to work. She is like me, but she is tougher, smarter, harder, but she is me. Sometimes you don’t like to fail in front of yourself. My daughter does not want to see me fail. I was working for this car company. Now I live in a brand new senior building, an old Coca Cola factory. I have a glow to me now because I’m not homeless anymore.

 

 

 

 

SanJoseInside – Op-Ed: Vote ‘Yes’ on A for Affordable Housing

This op-ed piece was originally published by SanJoseInside.com; written by Eileen Richardson/September 13, 2016

Measure A would authorize Santa Clara County to spend $950 million on affordable housing for the homeless and other vulnerable residents. (Photo via Facebook)

Measure A would authorize Santa Clara County to spend $950 million on affordable housing for the homeless and other vulnerable residents. (Photo via Facebook)

This November, Santa Clara County voters will have the opportunity to make history by voting “yes” on Measure A for Affordable Housing, a $950 million affordable housing bond that will create thousands of new affordable homes for hardworking families and vulnerable communities across Santa Clara County.

We all see on a daily basis that Santa Clara County’s housing crisis is real. The Bay Area is home to some of the wealthiest and most expensive places to live in the world, all while thousands of people are homeless and many thousands more live below the poverty line on the verge of homelessness.

This affects all of us. We’re worried about our friends, family, and community members being able to find an affordable place to live. And we’re deeply concerned about helping those who have already lost housing find a way to get back on their feet and gain access to a safe, healthy, affordable place to call home. Read more…