FILE ART – A man working with the San Francisco Day Labor program hauls a cabinet.
SAN FRANCISCO – – Marcos Saul Aurora Gonzalez has slept on a street corner in San Francisco for the past week or more.
He wasn’t always homeless. But since the Bay Area stay-at-home order stopped the non-essential business, the 37-year-old from El Salvador has not been able to find steady work as a craftsman or in construction. He was living with his girlfriend but was recently asked to leave her place because she lives in a city apartment that can only accommodate one person.
“There are a lot of people like me,” Gonzalez said in Spanish through a translator.
He slept like himself with six other men one last night, he said. These are men who are out of work, have no chance of a federal incentive due to their immigration status, have no right to collect unemployment, and now have nowhere to go.
Some of the men have found places for their wives and children to sleep, but they have taken to the streets because there is not enough space in their friends and relatives’ homes, Gonzalez said. Other families he knows sleep in cars. “It’s super, super cold in the morning,” he said.
The next morning he was the only one with tortillas and one of the men asked quietly, “Can you share?” The six men sat in the corner six feet apart, taking every bite from his meager breakfast. “We gathered there,” he said, “and shared our stories. Nobody has enough to rent. Neither of us has eaten. Everyone is concerned about how they will look after their families.”
The coronavirus quarantine will be catastrophic for undocumented immigrants
There are an estimated 3 million undocumented immigrants in California. Last month, Governor Gavin Newsom expressed his support for them, stating that they make up 10% of the California workforce and provide essential services in the state. He also announced a $ 125 million fund for undocumented immigrants, although no money was distributed.
There are many critics who say people like Gonzalez should not be helped because they came into the country illegally. Two conservative groups sued Newsom for giving taxpayers’ money to undocumented immigrants.
However, everyone who has come to the United States has a personal story about immigration and the challenge of settling here.
In Gonzalez’s case, he fled here about two years ago and escaped the MS-13 gangs who had already shot him and vowed to kill him, he said. He has a lawyer to help him stay in this country permanently. Even so, its status is not documented.
Gonzalez is one of approximately 250 members of the 30-year San Francisco Day Labor Program and Women’s Collective, both of which fall under Dolores Street Community Services. Francisco Herrera helped found the program and is now co-director of Guillermina Castallenos. Your operating budget is around $ 800,000 per year.
One of the services of the program is to connect undocumented workers with people in need of help with house cleaning, gardening, landscaping, and construction work.
Dispatchers hope they will soon receive an influx of calls to meet the needs of the neighbors, to blue-collar and domestic workers desperate to provide service and earn a paycheck, as the relaxed ordering now dictated what to do in the Bay Area Outdoor professions made possible.
On Monday, some orders for the stay at home were relaxed so that all construction and landscaping work was possible. Cleaning houses and gardening is also permitted.
Questions and Answers: The Status of the California Undocumented Immigration Fund of $ 125 million
Gonzalez has not applied for one of the free hotel rooms in town, nor has he applied for a scholarship.
“I’m just focused on getting a job,” he said, adding that he’s usually located on 26th and Harrison Streets in San Francisco, hoping to be hired for the day.
FILE ART – A member of the San Francisco Day Labor program paints a wall.
Gonzalez and his girlfriend, who is a domestic worker, would like to be hired. But they say that so far she and her friends have been turned down because people are worried about taking her to their homes fearing they could have coronavirus, especially since he slept on the street.
While he has no symptoms now, Gonzalez said that he, too, is “very afraid of getting sick. I am very, very vulnerable.”
Herrera said that’s why his program pushed Gonzalez and San Francisco’s other 8,200 homeless people to hotel rooms in the city and he’s frustrated with why it took so long. Herrera also said that as per Cal-OSHA guidelines, employers must provide workers with the correct personal protective equipment and disinfectants to keep everyone safe. The program’s workers are also trained in proper social distancing and how to deal with COVID-19, Herrera said.
Newsom: California Unemployment Period Extended; $ 125 million Undocumented Immigrant Fund
Gonzalez described his situation as pretty dire.
“I’m on the verge,” he said. “If I don’t get a job soon, I don’t even want to think about the situation I’m going to find myself in.”
Despite his life on the streets, Gonzalez said it was still better here than El Salvador.
“I’m hungry. I have no place to sleep. But it’s still better here,” he said. “At least I’m not afraid of being killed or tortured. The level of violence there is hard to believe.”
IF YOU ARE INTERESTED: If hiring a worker from the San Francisco Day Labor Program and Women’s Collective, call 415-252-5375. Further information on the programs can be found here. You can also donate to Fighting for our Workers (or one of the groups listed below). You can also email Louis Legowsky to the program at sfdlp @ 3358 @ gmail.com.
FILE ART – Domestic workers clean their homes as part of the San Francisco Women’s Collective.
BAY AREA FUNDS TO HELP THE UNGENATED
Fight for our workers (This is the fund that goes directly to Marcos Saul Aurora Gonzalez. You can indicate which worker you want to honor.)
East Oakland DREAMERS
OUR Fund Oakland
Aid Fund for Mission Families
Dolores Street Community Services
Lisa Fernandez is a reporter for KTVU. Email Lisa at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at 510-874-0139. Or follow her on Twitter @ljfernandez