Another key takeaway I have had is the numerous challenges for those in a couple and relationship. I have met many wonderful couples and heard countless stories of those in a relationship being separated upon entering a shelter, harassed by others, and more. A relationship should always be cherished, especially when experiencing the hardships of experiencing homelessness. On Day 32, I met Pierre and Tanesh, and upon first meeting Pierre, he shared the importance of still doing the same things while in a relationship. In fact, they were on their way to a little quant spot on top of a parking garage to have a few drinks and watch the sunset. Pierre and Tanesh shared the obstacles of being in a shelter as a couple, sharing that “they separate us almost immediately,” eliminating the benefits of emotional support in a relationship.
Another example is when I met Roger and Chocolate just days after launching our Makeshift Traveler. They made me a beautiful breakfast and welcomed me into their community. We chatted about similar challenges and the obstacles of having children.
I met Paul and Sage on Day 56, who have had similar experiences. They reached out to me over email and shared their story of traveling across the country to access the housing services available in San Francisco upon meeting me. Paul shared how they were separated at two different navigation centers on two different sides of the city. Paul shared another troubling story when his wife, Sage, was harassed in a shelter by a group of male employees. These are daily occurrences and challenges of being a woman within this community, and being in a relationship, magnifies this even more. Building off of this, Bob and Jess, who we met on Day 62, Bob doesn’t sleep at night because he is watching over Jess, making sure no one is attempting anything inappropriate with her. They also mentioned that they avoid shelters for this very reason.
Overall, a few things come to mind to wrap up this takeaway:
- Transitional housing programs, shelters, and safe sleeping sites should encompass and prioritize those in relationships.
- Being in a relationship is a positive part of alleviating homelessness, providing emotional support, dual incomes, and reliability.
- There needs to be separate programs and protocols for those in relationships.
I will expand on my takeaways as far as the LGBTQ+ community and Woman in Takeaway #8, which correlates with this topic.