I answered my work phone at 5:28pm yesterday. My caller is in her early 20’s, 7 months pregnant and living in the park with her physically disabled husband.
“Polly” ,as we are going to call her, is scared senseless. She knows she can’t keep living in the park but her husband can not work and at 7 months pregnant – she is finding it hard to find employment. With no income she has no way to pay rent. She is reluctant to come into any county office because someone told her that the government will take her baby from her. In the meantime she has nowhere to heat or cook or store food. She makes several trips to the grocery store a week for individual sized bottles of milk, an apple and whatever else she can eat during the day that won’t perish. She does not want to go into a shelter where she and her husband will be forced to sleep apart from each other.
Polly has no support system and no one to help her find resources. Her family threw her out and her friends have dropped her as a lost cause because they don’t approve of her choices. She called to tell me that she would not be keeping her appointment with me in two weeks. I am pretty sure that she called late in the day in the hopes of getting my answering machine and not having to talk to an actual person. I tried to joke with her and make the “System” sound personable and supportive and I listened to her talk to me about her fears.
I told her about the CalWORKS Homeless Families Project that provides extra support to homeless families with “Specialized Support Services” needs such as mental health, domestic violence or substance abuse.
Cross your fingers and hope that she comes in today.