Raising grandkids, a former addict finds an Oakland home for her family

Sonja Johnson married a drug lord after graduating from high school, though she didn’t know it at the time. She said they got high together on their wedding night, and she battled addiction for the next 18 years. She wasn’t around much to raise her five daughters. But after getting clean in 1994, Johnson, 55, chose family. In a way, … Read More

After losing his wife, a veteran finds a way forward and a new home

There’s a room in Lawrence Wilson’s trailer home that he doesn’t go into anymore, not after the roof started leaking and sagging and he had to move everything out of it. The home isn’t just falling apart — it’s infested with rats, he says, which run around in the ceiling at night. Wilson’s not complaining, just explaining why the new … Read More

Evicted for having cancer, disabled house painter lands in a place of his own

First came cancer. Then came an eviction notice — because of the diagnosis. Homelessness was up next for Jack Hendrix. Which for Hendrix, a 60-year-old disabled house painter with no savings, would probably be a death sentence, since a shelter isn’t stable enough to allow the type of chemotherapy and surgery needed for the aggressive form of esophagus cancer he … Read More

She had vision and drive, but job loss could have derailed everything

Tyler Roberson had it all planned — at least the next 12 years, which is a lot at age 23. First, she was going to pass biology, the last class standing between her and her high school diploma. Next, she would enroll at the community college down the street from her apartment. After that, she would transfer to a four-year … Read More

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