Thirty years ago, Ramona was homeless. Today, she’s a homeowner.
I met Ramona in the shelter, where she was living with her 5 year-old daughter. HPP had just begun serving pregnant, homeless women out of a closet in the shelter’s basement. A parent to a young child herself, Ramona understood the value of prenatal care and began referring clients to our services. She was such a natural at outreach that I hired her as one of HPP’s very first Community Health Workers to act as a link between HPP and the women we were there to serve. In no time at all, she would lead the program – and that was just the beginning.
Ramona dedicated her life to giving back to her community. She’s worked hard and achieved so much. While working at HPP, she began taking classes at City College and later received a Bachelor’s from San Francisco State. Now with a Master’s of Health Education, Ramona leads Berkeley’s Black Infant Heath Program. With determination and confidence, Ramona broke the cycle of poverty and homelessness for her family. Currently, her granddaughter is on a full-ride scholarship at the University of California, Merced, with plans to go into medical research.
Ramona’s success is a testament to your belief in our families. Because of your generosity, HPP has been able to stand alongside Ramona, offering support as needed, on her path to stability. As HPP reflects on its 30 years of service, Ramona’s story serves as a reminder that true, transformational change is an investment. Thank you for investing in our families’ futures.
Last year, HPP was able to serve nearly 3,500 homeless and low-income families (representing 4,500 children) because of donors of like you. Your support ensures that families have access to emergency services, housing assistance, perinatal services and education, support with substance use disorders and child welfare involvement, as well as child development services and job training.
These services are especially critical in this time of unprecedented need. The staggering homelessness crisis is evident across the San Francisco, in its alleyways and underpasses, but these encampments are only part of the story. Our pregnant mothers and young families work hard not to be seen on the streets. They live in cars, and huddle into overstuffed studio apartments; they couch surf and ride all night buses in fear that the fact of their homelessness might initiate involvement with child welfare. Our families want to stay together. They want to be housed and have jobs. They want to be able to afford food and diapers. They want what we want for their kids: for them to grow up happy and healthy.
HPP believes that the first step to a healthy family is a healthy pregnancy and birth. Homeless and low-income families face a variety of unique stressors that pose health risks such as preterm birth and low-birth weight that can have lifelong implications. With this in mind, HPP is pleased to share that – after long negotiations and building renovations – we will be launching an emergency shelter for pregnant, homeless women this winter. Jelani House is a former convent in the Bayview District and will house up to 17 pregnant women, providing perinatal support and exists to permanent housing. HPP is honored to be running Jelani House, and looks forward to developing a model program.
Of course, the emergency care provided by Jelani House – while crucial – is not enough. Last year, HPP saw 296 pregnant, homeless women. Another 1,116 families were homeless at intake (~50% of new clients); all families seeking services had incomes far below the line of poverty. Not only do these families need support with crisis management and housing assistance, but they need support beyond stability in order to, like Ramona, keep moving forward.
We are excited to share that we are expanding our Community Health Worker Training Program. This 14-month job training program prepares former clients for careers in the nonprofit sector. Moreover, we are turning the CHW Training Program into an accredited apprenticeship program – only the 3rd in San Francisco. This change will enable more women to access job training and education, and will link the program’s graduates to a larger breadth of career opportunities, including those in the health care sector. HPP knows how fundamental employment is to breaking the cycle of poverty, and the agency looks forwards to expanding economic opportunity for our families.
Thank you, again, for your support of HPP. During our milestone 30th Anniversary celebration, I am humbled at how verdant our growth is. This growth is a reflection of a thoughtful, compassionate and generous community of support. Thank you for your generosity and for working alongside us toward a future without family poverty and homelessness.
Founder & Executive Director