SamSam wants to one day make a movie about his life. He wants to show the world what it’s like to be homeless. A repeat customer of Project Homeless Connect (PHC), he also wants to show people the kindness of strangers.
Sam has used the services at PHC at least six times since he has lived in San Francisco. Most recently, he came to have his back “popped and aligned” by the chiropractor, and to sign up for much-needed voicemail. He didn’t quite get to the dentist, but he’ll make it a priority at his next visit.
“The [PHC] volunteers,” he said, “were very kind and helpful.” They took him where he needed to go and pointed him in the right direction. Even the clients themselves, he says, are kind and helpful. At PHC, we are able to “get away from the chaos of life outside, just for a couple hours…to get what we need and enjoy each other’s company.”
A native of the East Bay, Sam lived most of his life in Castro Valley. The house that he shared with his grandmother, mother, and brother sat on an acre of land—an acre the landlord eventually decided he wanted for his own family. Sam and his family were evicted.
At first things weren’t too bad. With the money Sam’s mother earned working and his grandmother’s SSI checks, the family was able to afford to stay in motel rooms. But then the money and their luck ran out. The family split up. Sam’s grandmother went to live with his aunt. Sam, his mother, and his brother became squatters in the very house they had been evicted from. When they got caught, they had nowhere to go.
For awhile, the threesome lived in a shelter in Berkeley. But shelter stays have time limits. When no other options presented themselves, the family ended up living on the streets.
Then came a bit of hope. Sam heard that resources for the homeless were better in San Francisco than in the East Bay. This was how he discovered PHC. “People should really come check it out. At least there is one place where there are so many things in one place rather than going to so many different places to get each and every little thing,” he says. “There are a lot of things that people need in their daily lives that [they] are unable to get either ’cause they don’t know how to or they’re just unavailable. And in this environment they’re all together in one area that’s just perfect.”
Since arriving in San Francisco, Sam has looked for ways to improve his life. A few credits shy of graduating high school, he took the initiative to earn his GED. He then went on to complete courses at City College. His real dream, though, is to attend film school, to make that documentary, to maybe, one day, even win an Oscar.