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San Francisco's Homeless Moms Learn Advocacy, Empower Others in Struggle

Photo : AP

Eight homeless mothers in San Francisco, who have faced tremendous challenges including chronic back pain from sleeping while pregnant, have come together to advocate for themselves and others in similar situations. Organized by the nonprofit Compass Family Services, these women meet regularly as part of the Family Advisory Committee pilot program. They share their stories and aim to improve support for homeless families in the city.

Among them is Teniah Tercero, who struggles with exposing her three young daughters to the harsh realities of homelessness in San Francisco's Tenderloin neighborhood. The group provides mutual support, with members like Christiana Porter comforting each other during emotional moments.

The mothers have learned about San Francisco's budget processes and have engaged with city politicians to advocate for better services from the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing and local nonprofits. They highlight systemic issues such as confusing information on websites, unresponsive caseworkers, and the need for safer housing away from individuals with addiction and behavioral issues.

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Their advocacy extends to practical needs such as rain covers for strollers and children's clothing for special occasions. The women stress the importance of clear communication for families navigating housing waitlists and emphasize the need for compassionate and responsive support from service providers.

Despite their own hardships, some of the mothers have made strides towards stable housing. Danica Gutierrez, for instance, has moved from sleeping in school gymnasiums to a subsidized apartment with her three daughters. However, challenges persist as they navigate a housing environment that includes individuals with complex needs.

The issue of family homelessness in San Francisco has gained national attention, especially with the U.S. Supreme Court's recent ruling on homeless encampments. The city faces significant challenges, including a shortage of family shelter spaces and high housing costs exacerbating the problem.

The mothers' efforts have already influenced local policy, with San Francisco Mayor London Breed pledging substantial funds for emergency shelters and family housing initiatives. Compass Family Services and other organizations are collaborating with the city to implement some of the mothers' recommendations, aiming to create more supportive and dignified housing solutions.

Through their advocacy, these mothers not only seek better lives for their families but also strive to change perceptions and policies around homelessness in San Francisco, hoping for a future where all families can find stability and safety in their community.

June 29, 2024 1:01 p.m. 398

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