Now I know that San Diego needs more homeless shelters

This morning, a car crashed into my backyard. The driver was a 19-year-old kid, driving without a license. He had borrowed his Dad’s car – apparently without permission – to go pick up cereal at the 99-cent store. Coming home, he tried to make a sharp turn at 45 miles per hour, and entirely missed the turn. He managed to go in between a stop-sign & a fire-hydrant, through my fence, down a short hill, over my retaining wall, into my empty plastic kiddie-pool, before he managed to make a sharp turn to avoid hitting the house. Instead, he went out the other side of the fence. There are impressive skid marks. There were fence-posts wedged into the front of his car.

No one was hurt. He’s not listed on his dad’s insurance, but hopefully that insurance will pay for a new fence and retaining wall. The firemen who are the first-responders around here actually helped me stack up the fence-pieces, to make room for the tow-truck to pull the crashed car out of my backyard. The boy walked home.

Then, a few hours later, the boy knocked on my door again. When he had phoned his father to tell him about the accident, his dad had threatened to kill him and told him that he had better leave the house before the dad could get home. The boy told me he just moved here, he didn’t know anyone, and he needed a ride to his mom’s house in Vista, ten minutes away.

Then, when we stopped for gas, he admitted that his mom didn’t actually live in Vista. Some friends might live there, he hoped, but he wasn’t sure. So I drove him back to my house and we started to call homeless shelters.

It turns out that 19 years old is not a teenager. It’s an adult. And there are very few emergency shelters for adult males around here. We called Storefront, Brother Benno’s Foundation, St Vincent de Paul, North County Life Line, San Diego Social Services, the sheriff, the Center for Community Solutions, and more. The YMCA might be able to get him into a program on Tuesday, five days from now. I let him use my phone for more than an hour. I looked on the internet too. He called a friend in Oceanside who hung up on him. He called his sister in Oregon, who wasn’t home. He called his mom in Escondido, but she told him she was about to be kicked out of her own apartment herself. (He also didn’t want to live with her because she’s on drugs, he told me.) After calling more than fifteen shelters, finally he said he’d just go to Vista to look for his friends.

I gave him a turkey sandwich, some snacks, a toothbrush & soap. I should have given him a blanket too for the cold nights around here, but I didn’t think of that till later. I gave him $25, and he got all excited & told me now he could eat for the next few days.

I dropped him off in a minimall parking lot, between a bank and a Chili’s restaurant.

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2 responses to “Now I know that San Diego needs more homeless shelters

  1. bfenton

    Amazing story. That this boy represents so many that slip through the cracks of society and have no one and nothing. No easy answers either.

  2. Pingback: A Tale of Two Families « Elaine’s blog

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