JaneLike many people, Jane has had her share of challenges. But remaining determined hasn’t been one of them.
With no private medical insurance or Medi-Cal coverage, she realized her health problems outnumbered her options. A broken back, severe asthma, and high blood pressure limited her job prospects. And for almost as long as she could remember, she hadn’t heard out of her right ear. “They don’t know if it was from birth,” she said. “We didn’t notice it until I started grammar school.”
So after living in Sacramento for seven years, Jane returned to her native San Francisco four months ago “to get more help with medical assistance.”
When she first arrived, she stayed at the Ella Hill Hutch Community Center before getting a housing referral from an agency in Sacramento. She just recently found “very stable” accommodations in Hunters Point, near Candlestick Park. “It’s a nice, quiet area” with some fairly new housing, she said. Her sister even lives around the corner.
But finding a place to live didn’t resolve Jane’s health concerns. She knew that even without health insurance, she could go to San Francisco General Hospital for emergencies — except her chronic, often debilitating medical conditions probably wouldn’t qualify. And they were really affecting her life.
She needed a lawyer to help her secure supplemental security income (SSI) for her back injury. “Just until I can try to get back on my feet,” she said. “I wouldn’t mind going back to work.” As a former cook, construction worker, nurse, and security guard, her willing, flexible attitude often disguised her physical ailments.
At Project Homeless Connect, Jane finally found the medical and legal help she needed. Although it was her first time visiting PHC, she felt confident she was in the right place. “I know this is a good program here,” she said. Now she’ll talk to a lawyer, find a doctor, and through a dental referral, take care of a nagging front tooth. “I see a lot of things that can help me.”
So far, she has no regrets about moving back to San Francisco. “The only thing I miss in Sacramento is the heat,” she said. Her relocation also has brought her closer to her family. She’s the mother of three girls and one boy, all grown with children of their own. “They keep me going,” she said. And Jane is more than happy to help take care of her five “grandbabies,” including four-year-old Tanya, her second oldest grandchild, who sometimes stays with her during the day.
As someone who has “seen it all,” both in San Francisco and elsewhere, Jane focuses on reachable opportunities, not missed chances. Her vision of the future remains hopeful but realistic. “I’m doing the best I can,” she said.