South Bay family received help moving out of overcrowded home

Citlali Gonzalez-Watson and Justin Watson were living in a two-bedroom mobile home in Sunnyvale with six other people when their son Daniel was born over the summer. Citlali and Justin slept in one bedroom with their baby, Citlali’s parents had the other bedroom, and her four younger siblings slept in the living room. The crowded environment quickly took its toll. … Read More

Mother’s Day fire separates mom, disabled son. Season of Sharing helps out

Elisa Barragan heard the screams first. Neighbors rushed into the yard of the San Jose house that she had rented for 20 years, yelling “fire.” One of them grabbed a hose from next door and sprayed the roof as an electrical fire began to spread and melt the gutters. Barragan ran. Not out, but farther inside, to the rear bedroom … Read More

Sleeping in real bed fulfills once-homeless man’s dream

Moving gingerly because of his bad back, Mike Dennis pulled himself into the driver’s seat of his green Ford Ranger pickup and reclined the seat. “This is how I slept for months,” he said. “I’d take off my shoes and wrap up in a sleeping bag and comforter.” Nowadays, the pickup is in the parking lot of a tidy seniors … Read More

As workers and students struggle, food banks are becoming a necessity

Amid the millionaires and billionaires of Silicon Valley, the working poor and cash-strapped college students struggle to pay ever-increasing rent, leaving little left over for food. And, increasingly, they are turning to Second Harvest Food Bank for help. These workers, many with two jobs, and college kids with full course loads have upended the image of the hungry, said Leslie … Read More

Hardworking mom had never sought help, but medical crises drained her savings

Ximena Rodriguez’s daughter wasn’t feeling well. She had a fever and was complaining of a sharp pain in her stomach. It’s appendicitis, the doctors told Rodriguez when she brought 9-year-old Isabella to the hospital in June. They’d take out her appendix, and she would be fine. Rodriguez could take her little girl home the next day. But after Isabella got … Read More

Single mom’s dream tripped up by volcano, Marin County housing costs

After singing her way through Drake High School in San Anselmo and making it through several elimination rounds on “American Idol,” Kelli Peterson moved to Hawaii to record and perform her own style of soul-reggae under the stage name Kelli Love. She built a $15,000 studio behind her rented home in the town of Puna, on the Big Island of … Read More

She inherited a house, then adjustable rates kicked in

Five days a week, eight hours a day, Karen Chaney stands at a Walmart cash register, working a full-time job at 67 to make sure she can stay above water financially and keep her East Oakland house. “It’s hard,” Chaney said as she sat on her living room sofa on a recent day off. “I come home every night and … Read More

Help after daughter’s illness renews sense of empathy

Year after year, Patti Medina answered the phone at the Oakland unemployment office. She filled out forms for strangers laid off from work. Helping strangers was her job. She never figured she’d be the next person needing a stranger’s help. Until she was. In April, Medina’s 10-year-old daughter, A.F., came back from a school camping trip complaining of being tired. … Read More