Looking to the future: Dawn
October 6, 2023
After living for years unsheltered in a local park, Dawn is taking steps toward more permanent housing with the support of the City Net team at Chula Vista’s Pallet village.
For several years, Dawn and her partner had to be resourceful for basic necessities like bathing and keeping personal possessions safe. They lived in a tent in a local park, using a hose hooked up to the sink of a public restroom to take showers.
Even while working, she fought to keep her belongings secure.
“I’ve actually had people steal my personal property from my job,” she says. “There are people out there you think you can trust, and then there are people that you would no way want to trust.”
Dawn describes her partner Miguel as being her safety net for a long time. They moved from Kansas out to California, where she grew up, and stuck together for many years.
“I just went wherever he went,” Dawn recalls. “I felt safe and comfortable with him. And I do have a love for him, but the love in the beginning was a lot stronger.”
Dawn explains that Miguel lives with bipolar disorder and ADHD, and his struggles managing these conditions put a strain on their relationship. After being offered shelters in Chula Vista’s new Pallet site by workers from San Diego’s Alpha Project Outreach Team, their bond began to falter, and Miguel moved out of the village.
Now Dawn is looking to the future, working with her onsite case manager to overcome barriers to secure permanent housing. She faces a number of challenges that were too much to tackle alone while working and keeping herself safe: medical debts from over a decade ago that have gone to collections; not having an option to obtain private health insurance through her job but earning just too much to qualify for Medicaid; replacing her lost social security card; and rebuilding her credit score to qualify for an affordable rental.
“A lot of the rental properties want a score of 650 or above, and my credit’s not that great,” she says. “The accounts that are out there causing my score to be so low are 12-year-old hospital bills. And then they say, ‘If you don’t have this, we can’t qualify you.’ It’s just aggravating.”
The team at City Net have already helped Dawn to check some of these items off her list. They provided transportation to the social security office to replace her lost card, are working to pay off old bills to improve her credit, and have obtained a housing voucher that would allow her to find her own place.
“I’ve been going online and everything looking for a place as well,” she says. “And the other day, we went out driving around trying to see if we could find places.”
Surmounting challenges like these is made extremely difficult without a safe and comfortable place to stay. Dawn is one of the first residents at the Chula Vista Bridge Shelter, and after just a few months of being offered an ecosystem of support, she’s already heading in the right direction.
To find out how the city of Chula Vista came together to build the Bridge Shelter and aid their unhoused neighbors, download our case study.
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