Help Shelter Children from the Health Risks of Housing Insecurity

Imagine a single mother whose 3-year-old child has autism. Consider the time required to access developmental services vital to helping her daughter thrive. Add in the fact that there’s no space in a fully subsidized child care program that can give her daughter the supports she needs. This means the mother has to pay for childcare to keep her near minimum-wage job. The cost of childcare in northern California is high, so mom can’t pay this month’s rent.

Housing insecurity isn’t new for this family. After fleeing domestic violence, they stayed in a shelter while mom worked hard to get herself back on her feet–physically, emotionally, and financially.  Afterwards, they moved from one city to the next, trying to find a decent job and an affordable place to live. Unfortunately, they couldn’t find the services they needed, so they came back to Oakland–and they’re about to experience homelessness again.

This family represents just one of the hundreds I see each year in our homeless outreach clinic, which is part of a larger primary care clinic serving thousands of patients each year from 3 surrounding counties. Most of the families we serve are working-poor and experience ongoing challenges to finding, and keeping, safe and affordable housing. Here in Oakland, and throughout the United States, occasional and chronic homelessness remains a persistent reality for children.