Tuesday, October 21, 2014     Volume: 29, Issue: 12
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New Times / Community

The Homeless Project

At New Times, we believe that homelessness is not a problem that can be attacked with money or plans. When we think of homelessness, we don't think of statistics; we think of people. We think of people who've had problems in their lives, and they all have a story to tell. We believe that common sense is the only way we'll ever come close to ending homelessness. This is our common-sense approach, and these are their stories.

Theresa Cinaglia

Moving hundreds of miles to a new city is seldom a smooth transition.

Theresa Cinaglia, who moved to San Luis Obispo from Northern California about five months ago to support her niece and niece’s daughter, is stuck in that kind of situation.

“There’s a lot I am grateful for,” she said. “Even with how hard it is at the moment, things could be a lot worse.”

Among the blessings Cinaglia counts are her car and having enough money to keep it registered and insured, as well as enough to pay a reasonable rent. And she has her trusty companion of nine years, Tessie, a chipper and well-behaved dog that can best be described as looking like Toto from The Wizard of Oz.

Moving to the Central Coast, Cinaglia sunk all the money she had into the deposit and rent for a studio apartment in Oceano, what she called a “nightmare.” Disagreements began with the landlord, and next thing she knew, she was out on the street with nowhere to go. She’s working on recovering some of her funds, but suspects she’ll have to just learn from the experience and move on.

Now she sleeps in her car, hoping to stay unnoticed by police and safe at night from the occasional opportunistic thief. Cinaglia is biding her time while she waits to begin an internship for training as an ultrasound technician, which is set to begin in the coming months.

Since she left her apartment, she found nearby housing for her niece, but hasn’t had any luck herself. With her classes quickly approaching, Cinaglia is hoping someone could offer a reasonably priced room to stay in during the transition.

She could also use some help repairing her car, which has some damage to the front passenger-side headlight area that’s attracting the attention of fix-it-ticket-doling police officers and dirty glances from passersby.

But most of all, Cinaglia just needs a chance: a chance to get off the street and focus her efforts on completing her career training so she can continue to be supportive of her niece and a good “gramma” to her niece’s daughter. She also looks forward to having time to establish herself in the community, and perhaps collaborate with fellow musicians.

“Sure, I could just sit on my social security for the rest of my life, but I really have a lot to contribute to those around me,” Cinaglia said. “And I want to contribute to our community.”

Send offers of assistance to homelessproject@newtimesslo.com.

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