Wednesday, December 12, 2012

SELENA-ROSE LUCETI-HERNANDEZ  -  "It's not glamorous being homeless."

     Selena-Rose Luceti-Hernandez is twenty years old. She has been homeless for about six months now.
     Selena-Rose first became homeless when she decided to leave home and move down to Paso Robles with her boyfriend.
     But by the time they got to Paso Robles, her boyfriend had changed his mind about wanting to be with her. So, he left her at the bus station.
     She was stuck in Paso Robles until she was able to get enough money sent to her by her grandfather so that she could travel.
     In the mean time, she was broke, and homeless.
     There was a homeless man in Paso Robles, named Tim the Sailor, who helped Selena-Rose learn the ropes when she was first homeless. Selena-Rose says that Tim the Sailor treated her like she was his own daughter.
     She was stuck in Paso Robles for about two weeks.
     Then, she went up to Yuba City, trying to get into a shelter there. She needed to get into a shelter because her mother was not yet ready to take her back.
     Her best friend’s father gave her a ride to the Auburn area, so that she could get temporary shelter at The Gathering Inn.
     Guests of The Gathering Inn are only allowed to stay with The Gathering Inn at night for six months.
     When Selena-Rose had used up all of her six months of sleeping at The Gathering Inn, she was back out on the streets.
     From mid-July to early November, Selena-Rose slept in her mother’s garage. She was forced to sleep in the garage because her mother’s landlord would not allow Selena-Rose to move back into her mother’s house until her mother was able to come up with enough additional rent money to pay for the additional tenant.
     Selena-Rose finally got back into her mother’s home. But she has to pay a part of the rent.
     It’s difficult for Selena-Rose to come up with her share of the rent, because she is disabled. She has Rheumatoid Arthritis in her back and neck. She also has mental disorders.
     When I ask Selena-Rose if she is on medications, she says, "I only take the medications that are for the worst of the things that I have. I take the medications for my bi-polar, and for my depression. But I also have Asberger’s, and Turret’s Syndrome.
     I ask Selena-Rose if she was able to get her medications while she was homeless.
     "Well, I was on Medi-Cal," she answers. "So, I was able to get my medications. But I had trouble scheduling doctor’s appointments, because I don’t have a cell phone, and I couldn’t make the calls, and then get a call-back."
     What is the hardest thing about being homeless for Selena-Rose?
     "Getting food," she says. "Even when you can get to a food closet, you can only carry so much food. And a lot of times, that food is perishable. So, it doesn’t last very long.
     "Food stamps don’t buy much. One time, we calculated it out, and the value of the food stamps that you get for a month, if you divide it by the number of days in the month, comes out to about $6.25 per day. That’s doesn’t buy you enough food for one meal a day.
     "Another hard thing is trying to stay cool in the heat of Summer, and trying to stay warm in the Winter."
If Selena-Rose had a magic wand, so that she could be or do absolutely anything, what would she be doing?
     "I’d open up a shelter for the homeless. And it would be open to all homeless people, no matter what kind. Alcoholics would be welcome, drug addicts would be welcome, and stray animals too. Because I love animals. I want to become a Veterinary Technician someday.
     "In this shelter, there would be some real rehabilitation programs, too. There would be programs that really work for people... to help them get off of drugs and alcohol.
     "It wouldn’t be a place like The Gathering Inn. There would be no time limit on how long you could stay there.
     "And it wouldn’t involve getting dragged around from one church to another, night after night, like The Gathering Inn. It would be a permanent shelter, in a permanent building. And it would have a kitchen in it, so that we could feed people."
     Selena-Rose says that she grew up in the Bay Area, and there were a lot of homeless people down there. It really made her sad, because she couldn’t help them.
     Selena-Rose says that her dad was an alcoholic, and a drug abuser.
     Her mom only had Selena-Rose on certain days of the week, because she was working and going to school at the same time.
     On the other days, Selena-Rose stayed with her grandmother. Her grandmother was really nice. But she was also a binge drinker.
     When Selena-Rose was six years old, her grandmother died.
     Her grandfather, who was a dentist, remarried when Selena-Rose was eight.
     Selena-Rose says that her uncle owned Luceti’s Restaurant, a well-known Italian restaurant in the Bay Area. She says that all of the recipes used in the restaurant are her great-grandmother’s recipes.
     I ask Selena-Rose if she has a message for the world.
     "People need to treat others the way that they’d like to be treated.
     "We don’t treat the people we love like we love them.
     "And also, we need to treat this world with love and respect. Because it’s the only one that we have.
     "I’m the nicest person you’ll ever meet, unless you piss me off."
     I ask Selena-Rose what she believes makes her special and unique in the world.
     "It’s really hard for me to hate," she answers. "I should hate a lot of people. But I can’t. I should hate my ex-boyfriend who left me at the bus station. But I don’t.
     Selena-Rose has a new boyfriend now. He is sitting with her, and he seems like a nice young man. He and Selena have been friends for quite some time. But they’ve only been romantically involved for about three days
     "It’s not glamorous being homeless, like some people say," Selena-Rose says.
     "It’s really a struggle.
     "Just trying to stay out of trouble is a real struggle.
     "If you go to the hospital, they treat you badly. They treat you differently at the hospital, if they know that you’re homeless. They are rude.
     "One other thing that I’d tell people is, don’t go to Colfax.
     "I’ve lived there.
     "They do meth in the middle of the town, in Colfax.
     "The cops come by right while people are smoking it, and they don’t even care.
     "Sometimes, the homeless people break into the old school up there, and stay inside. And the cops don’t even bother to run them out."

     This is the one-hundred-and-seventh in a series of articles about Auburn-area homeless people, written by local attorney, author, and Sierra College Instructor Bob Litchfield.

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