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Coronavirus makes Calif.’s housing crisis that much scarier for families like mine

Center for Health Journalism - As virtually everyone in the nation endures some form of sheltering-at-home, many homeless people and those without secure housing do not have a place to keep safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. The state of California has been facing a housing crisis for many years. When we have a pandemic, the housing shortage becomes a public health crisis.

I am a mother of two daughters who for the past 18 months has been sleeping on spare beds, couches, or sometimes on the bare floor. Until recently, my family would go from house to house, often using public transportation, toting just our clothing in bags. This instability has led to a lot of anxiety and depression for my two daughters and me. For my daughters, it has undermined their ability to concentrate and learn. 

Three years ago, I was living in Boyle Heights, paying $1,200 for a two-bedroom apartment. I left the country for two years to visit friends in South America and lived in a rural area away from the city. When I returned to Los Angeles, rents at the places I was looking at had doubled. I was unable to afford to live on my own. My daughters, 10 and 8, were forced to live with friends and family. We made do in crowded spaces, sometimes on a spare bed, other times on the floor or on couches. We lived out of clothing from bags that we moved around with us. It made it really hard to provide the kind of stability we know children need to thrive.

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