gmhTODAY 20 gmhToday June July 2018 - Page 19

“ We have never had a governor particularly animated by homelessness … It ’ s a crisis .”

— Gavin Newsom , Lieutenant Governor of California
According to Santa Clara County ’ s 2017 Homeless Census and Survey , nearly 7,400 of our inhabitants are homeless . That ’ s up from 6,556 homeless reported in 2015 . Among them , 74 percent are unsheltered , including roughly 900 people in South County .
It might seem like we haven ’ t moved the needle on this issue until you consider that in two years , the public-private partnership known as Destination : Home has helped place 5,154 people in housing , 94 percent of whom stayed housed . Its homelessness prevention system is proving that , given housing and social service support , people can get healthy , find work , and live happy , productive lives in their communities .
South County is fortunate to have some very smart people working to end homelessness with this same philosophy in mind . They know the circumstances that lead to each person ’ s homelessness are as unique and varied as their challenges in making the transition to stable housing and restoration .
We can and we must continue to raise millions of dollars and design collaborative , farreaching programs , but understanding and helping the homeless , as unique individuals , is how we move the needle .

While researching this story I met a young Morgan Hill woman I ’ ll call “ Gina .” Until recently , she and her family were homeless . Knowing that I am a journalist writing about homelessness , Gina was guarded , but she agreed to speak with me anyway . She did not ask me to keep her name confidential . I made the decision out of respect for her privacy as well as that of her family .

Gina is married and has four children between the ages of 4 and 12 . Not long ago , Gina and her husband suffered a major setback when his employer of more than 15 years said he would no longer be needed . Meanwhile , the owner of the place they were renting decided to put his property up for sale so they had to move out . What landlord would even look at a rental application from an unemployed man with a wife and four kids ?
For a few months they stayed at her mother ’ s , but she was living on a fixed income and the landlord wasn ’ t willing to have extra non-paying tenants . Gina ’ s husband hadn ’ t found a new job . Panicked , they checked into a hotel where they stayed for a few months until their savings ran out .
“ The next thing I knew we were on the street with nowhere to go ,” Gina said . “ We went to a community park hoping to sleep there . I tried to act cheerful when I told the kids , ‘ Hey , we ’ re going camping !’ They didn ’ t know what to think . There wasn ’ t enough money for food and we had nowhere to shower or wash our clothes . My husband and I were ashamed and didn ’ t want to tell anyone we were homeless .”
When Gina ’ s brother found out their secret , he asked if it was okay to help . He introduced Gina to a local social services case manager he knew , and things took a turn for the better . Gina ’ s family became one of the first to benefit from a small pilot program in Morgan Hill called FOCUS Safe Parking .
“ The case manager helped us get into the program . The people running it helped us find a car . They saw our need and helped us out with groceries and gas money . It gave us comfort to know our family was safe there .”
Gina ’ s husband soon found work . The case manager spoke with the property manager of a nearby apartment building and helped with the deposit and first month ’ s rent so Gina and her family could move into one of the units before school started up again . Volunteers and partners of the Safe Parking program provided some furniture to help them settle in . Now she ’ s eligible to go every two weeks to get a food box packed with healthy food for her kids .
“ We had our ups and downs . It was stressful on our marriage and hard to see the kids suffer when we had nowhere to go , but we came through it together and now we ’ re in a more stable situation .”
Just as we were wrapping up our conversation , Gina ’ s youngest son ran up to show me his toy . He didn ’ t notice as his mother wiped the tears from her face , looked at me , and quietly said , “ I am so thankful for where we are today .”
GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN JUNE / JULY 2018 gmhtoday . com
19
“We have never had a governor particularly animated by homelessness… It’s a crisis.” —Gavin Newsom, Lieutenant Governor of California According to Santa Clara County’s 2017 Homeless Census and Survey, nearly 7,400 of our inhabitants are homeless. That’s up from 6,556 homeless reported in 2015. Among them, 74 percent are unsheltered, including roughly 900 people in South County. It might seem like we haven’t moved the needle on this issue until you consider that in two years, the public-private partnership known as Destination: Home has helped place 5,154 people in housing, 94 perc [وH^YY\Y ]Y[\ۙ\][[ۈ\[H\ݚ[] ][\[[X[\XH\ܝ [H[]X[K[ܚ[]H\KX]H]\[Z\[][]Y\˂][H\ܝ[]H]HYB\HX\[Hܚ[[Y[\ۙ\]\[YH[H[Z[ ^HۛH\[\[\]XYXX\۸&\šY[\ۙ\\H\[\]YH[\YY\Z\[[\[XZ[H[][ۈXB\[[\ܘ][ۋH[[H]\۝[YHZ\BZ[[ۜو\[\YۈXܘ]]K\BXX[ܘ[\][\[[[[[HY[\\[\]YH[]YX[\B[ݙHHYYKš[H\X\[\ܞHHY]H[[[ܙ[[X[x&[['[K'H[[X[KH[\[Z[H\HY[\ˈۛ[]H[HH\[\ܚ][X]Y[\ۙ\[H\X\Y ]HYܙYYXZ]YH[]^KHY\YHY\\BۙY[X[ HXYHHX\[ۈ]و\X܈\]XH\[\]ق\[Z[K[H\X\YY[\\[[]Y[HY\و [ LۙY[H[\\ؘ[Y\YHXZ܈]X[\[\Y\و[ܙH[ MHYX\ZYH[ۙ\HYYY YX[[KBۙ\وHXH^H\H[[XYY]\\H\܈[H^HY[ݙH] ][ܙ[][]H[[\X][ۂH[[[\YYX[]HYH[\Y‘܈H][۝^H^YY]\[\&\]H\][ۈH^Y[YH[H[ܙ\۸&][[]H^Hۋ\^Z[[[˂[x&\\ؘ[Y&][H]؋[XY ^HXY[H[\H^H^YY܈H][۝[[Z\][[] 'H^[Hۙ]H\HۈHY]]\H8'H[BZY 8'H[H[][]H\[Y\\KHYYXY\B[[HHY8&^Kx&\H[[\[x&H^HY&]ۛ][ˈ\H\۸&][Y[ۙ^H܈[HY\H\܈\\\ˈ^H\ؘ[[H\H\[YY[Y&][[[[ۙHH\HY[\˸'B[[x&\\[]Z\Xܙ] H\YY]\^H[ H[XY[HH[X[\X\\HX[Y\Hۙ][[H\܈H]\[x&\[Z[HX[YHۙHوH\[Y]BHX[[ܘ[H[[ܙ[[[YTYH\[˂'H\HX[Y\[Y\][Hܘ[KH[H[[][Y\[H\^H]\YY[[Y\]]ܛ\Y\[\[ۙ^K]]H\Yܝۛ\[Z[H\YH\K'B[x&\\ؘ[ۈ[ܚˈH\HX[Y\H]B\HX[Y\وHX\H\\Y[Z[[[[Y]H\][\[۝8&\[[H[\[Z[H[[ݙH[ۙHوH[]˜YܙH\Y\YZ[[Y\[\\وHYH\[œܘ[HݚYYYH\]\H[[H]H[x&\[YXH™]\HYZ]HXY]X[H܈\Y˂'HY\\[ۜˈ]\\ٝ[ۈ\X\XYH[\YHHYY\[HY\H]H[YHY]]\[x&\H[H[ܙHXH]X][ۋ'B\\H\Hܘ\[\\۝\][ۋ[x&\[[\ۈ[\YH\KHY&]XH\\[\\YHX\H\XKY]YK[]ZY]HZY 8'H[H[ٝ[܈\HH\H^K'BSH8(SԑSS8(SPTSSKҕSH NZ^KBN