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Chamaine's Story: from the streets to success

Homeless man, downtown Los Angeles, December 2005.
Homeless man, downtown Los Angeles, December 2005.
John Rabe

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On any given day in LA County more than 50,000 people are homeless. That’s the population of Glendora, or Rosemead, or Cerritos. Men, women, and children living on the streets, in their cars, in motels, or on the floors at their friends’ houses.

The causes are simple and complicated: no job, domestic violence, drug use, mental illness, rising health care costs, lack of affordable housing. And the challenges of maintaining a “normal” life while without stable shelter can be insurmountable.

For almost forty years, Union Station Homeless Services in Pasadena has been in the forefront of the fight to help these people, so Tuesday we welcomed several speakers from USHS to the Crawford Family Forum to talk about the roots of homelessness ... and solutions.

The star of the show was Chamaine, whose life spiraled out of control at the hands of an abusive boyfriend. Now, with Union Station's help - "and a lot of praying" - she's put her life back together again. She's no longer living in her VW Bug with her baby daughter. Now, she has an apartment, a part-time job, and her daughter is about to enter Kindergarten.

You can hear all of our forum in the link below, but this week on Off-Ramp, we focus on Chamaine's story, told in her own words with a little help from Union Station CEO Marv Gross.

(We're not using Chamaine's last name or showing a photo of her to protect her from her abusive ex-boyfriend.)