Things would have been fine for Ramona if she hadn’t become pregnant at 15, and had to drop out of school in the eleventh grade.
Today Ramona is 34 and has six children, ranging in age from 2 to 14, by three different fathers. She cares for her three youngest children; the others live with their fathers.
Before she became pregnant with 3-year-old Quincy’ana, Ramona worked as a caregiver for the elderly. The house she was renting was foreclosed on in 2008, and she lost her Section 8 benefits in 2009. Ramona fought the foreclosure for three years, managed to get the case to court, but didn’t make it to the court date because her foot was fractured after the property gate fell on her.
In October 2011, Ramona was forced out into the streets with her three kids. From October through January 2012, she stayed at the West Wind Lodge Motel, paying about $1200 a month to keep a roof over her kids’ heads.
In January 2012, when she ran out of money, she actually called Oakland Mayor Jean Quan’s office to get help. The administration tried to connect Ramona with a shelter, but the plan didn’t succeed and Ramona ended up traveling to San Rafael to stay with her sister. After a couple weeks, Ramona felt like she was no longer welcome and returned to the Bay. By the beginning of April 2012, Ramona found herself on the streets. The shelters were full.