Having a home gives us more than security and shelter. It allows us to heal and improve our health. The Housing Justice Coalition spoke with Dave who shares how having a secure place to live allowed him to receive necessary medical assistance. Dave is a Stockton resident who currently lives in a single family home with two friends. Before Dave moved into his current home, he was homeless and lived in his vehicle. Dave shares he would pay $12 for a shower at truck stops and “stay in someone’s backyard if they let me park my truck and put up my tent.”
While battling homelessness, Dave was hospitalized for two days for a possible stroke and a collapsed lung. To his surprise, doctors found a lump and diagnosed Dave with lung cancer. Dave’s medical insurance required him to travel to Sacramento to receive radiation. Dave found himself needing to drive five days a week to Sacramento – an hour away – just to receive 30 minutes of treatment, and he would need to do this for 3 weeks.
When the hospital learned about Dave’s situation, they provided him with a voucher to stay at a hotel across the street from the hospital until he finished his radiation. Dave was allowed to stay over the weekends and was provided three meals a day. He notes, “you don’t find too many hospitals who will pay for a place for you to stay to get treatment.”
Having a place to live for three weeks made medical care more accessible for Dave. He was able to walk down the street for treatment as opposed to driving his truck back and forth 2 hours every day. Dave shares, “It made it easier for me.” Being provided a space to stay–even if it was just for three weeks–allowed Dave to focus on his medical needs and recover. He is now going into remission. After finishing treatment, Dave needed another place to stay and he was offered a space in permanent supportive housing, now his current home.
Dave’s permanent supportive home is helping him to heal and recover from cancer. Dave shares, “I can walk around more. I have my own bed to lay on and I can stretch out.” Dave is able to sleep more comfortably, be in a clean and safe space, and enjoy a more active lifestyle. All of which are helping him to keep in good health.
All of us need medical care. And medical care is more than just doctor visits, insurance, and medication. It also comes in the form of a home. A place to recover and a place with all the basic amenities that keep us healthy.
Many of the unsheltered in Stockton have serious health conditions that won’t get better as long as they are homeless. As Dave said, speaking on behalf of the thousands of unsheltered people in Stockton, “don’t put us down. I know some of us [homeless] do drugs and steal. But that’s not all of us. We need help.”