APRIL 26, 2021 ~ ~ ~ A story about San Francisco’s “Intimidation of Occupancy” of a very sick woman’s home. I am an ethnic nomad, an American-born Scottish Traveller. That makes what is happening to me come under the authority of the Fair Housing Act.
Tomorrow afternoon I find out the biopsy results and see if it’s valid, the recent mammogram’s status of BI-RADS category 5 (which basically gives me a 95% chance the 2.5 cm lump is malignant). Been a rough week.
UPDATE (September 29, 2021): now in a PDF are 9 months of promises made and none kept by San Francisco’s Dept of Homelessness + their subcontractor Episcopal Community Services: 9 months Written Communications with ECS_ HSH_ HOT – Google Docs
On the bright side, my all-volunteer street mechanic team took off the RV’s brake pedal (source of the godawful noise when applied) and took it away to be repaired. That’s the last job. Front tires both replaced. Fuel pump working. Battery good. Starts right up and purrs. Brake lights repaired. All new bulbs and fuses. New gas cap. Oh probably some things I forget I did. It’s been 9 solid months of repair on the two vehicles, a 1996 Gulfstream RV (27’) and a 2000 Oldsmobile Bravada, a small SUV. It’s what we were doing when we found out my husband had liver cancer. The pandemic suspended all work, we were forced into Project Roomkey. On July 7, 2020, he died, leaving our RV in storage and me homeless. To even BE back in our RV home Dec 23, 2020 is a testament to my faith in God, the Holy Ghost and Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior.
An hour ago, I was just visited by an officer from the City’s Parking & Traffic, a very polite and nice younger man, who nonetheless told me it was a good thing that I was home because otherwise, he would have instituted a tow on the RV. I burst into tears instantly. I couldn’t help it. He immediately apologized and was so nice, but the damage was done. Then to compound the way I felt, he said, “The neighbors may be nice to your face or act like they are ignoring you, but they hate you here. They call us constantly. They are not going to stop. When can you go?” Even as I am explaining about the cancer, the dead husband, the kids too poor to help, the SSI budget, the mechanic who left with my money and didn’t finish the work, yes, even as I am explaining why I am worthy of this officer’s compassion, doing to my best to say all this coherently, I can feel, physically feel, the stress feeding my cancer.
I end my panicked speech with a list of all the work I have accomplished on my own with only volunteer (unhoused) mechanics. I began my speech by offering the phone number of the most recent “problem specialist” who has offered to help. Though I have zero faith in the City’s truthfulness as to even get their “offer”, made a week ago, as it took a 113-day hunger strike with a dozen visits by the Dept. of Homelessness, and filing a discrimination lawsuit.
The officer apologized for even knocking on my door and disturbing me. I asked him to relay what I had just told him to his superiors and I read the answer in the way he said yes but nodded no. Body language gives you away every time, especially in a younger person.
I have a pounding headache now. All the good mood I was trying to face the day with is gone. I am so nervous about the brakes, the smog, the DMV, the accumulating tickets. That is the total sum of my crime against society. I merely exist in their sight. This is NOT even close to segregation. This is APARTHEID. I can’t get out of this town soon enough. When the RV is repaired and legal, I can go take it to a rural campground and face my health issues in peace. Why DON’T I qualify for help is what my lawsuit asks. I am the easiest “homeless” person to help off this street and into stability. I could be there tomorrow, but every social worker/ HOT team member I have talked to says the same thing: “It sounds like you have a solid plan, but it doesn’t lead to permanent housing”.
My husband bought this RV for me in 2012. I picked it out. I love it. I need it. It has his ashes in it. It’s our home and in it, I don’t feel like I am a terrified, destitute widow. I feel like a wife and mother again, surrounded by my possessions and photos and memories. I have our bed, our kitchen, our things. I cannot lose it. How cruel that I have to even have these horrible official people watch me struggle (and give no help) now for four solid months. Without the compassion and free mechanic work from my unhoused friends, I would have sunk into despair months ago. Thank God in Heaven that not every heart has grown cold in the pandemic.
What is wrong with the Dept. of Homelessness that will only observe me, will not assist me in saving my home and moving back to a campground in the country, but instead, only offers a warehouse shelter bed, when I am telling them I have cancer and that to be in that setting could kill me? I have this on video and it’s in court as an exhibit.
This is an agency that has millions of dollars constantly being funneled into it from every direction (i.e. for approximately 8000 homeless people, of which I am one since Oct 15, 2020), the City receives $367 million annual budget, Prop C taxes just released from escrow $300 million, CARES Act money specific to care for the homeless during the pandemic as a health and safety matter, and most recently out of the (first) stimulus act by President Biden: $18 million from the act itself but also a promise Jan 22, 2021 that FEMA would pay 100% non-congregate shelter costs. I filed my lawsuit on Nov 25, 2020 that came as a result of being part of a tent sweep that ignored all the rules of SFPD Ordinance 169, which specifies a type of help known as “Homeward Bound” (i.e. a bus ticket) must be offered. That’s discriminatory to all the other homeless who have no one to go to or come from San Francisco or have deep ties to the City, as I do.
I know I won’t sleep again tonight, but I will pray for God to put a hedge of protection around my home. Because that’s what it is, it’s my home and I need it if I am to have a dignified death. Because really, that’s what this whole protest (and lawsuit) is about: as a nomad, do I have to die how the City says I do, in a shelter bed waiting for “supportive housing”, without my RV home because they say so? Because City policy says that a vehicle is not a suitable mode of housing. Well, it is for nomads and has been for a long time. This is HATE. This is DISCRIMINATION. It’s happening in America’s most liberal city right in your face and you don’t care. Nobody cares because we are nomads, we live on wheels, and we are second-class citizens.