Wednesday, August 27, 2014     Volume: 29, Issue: 4
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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.

Sherry Phillips

It all started in Yucca Valley. The job market was dismal, so Sherry Phillips decided to go back to school, study phlebotomy, and find work drawing blood for medical testing. She and her daughter couldn’t afford their own apartment, so they split the rent with a roommate.

“Things with the roommate were getting really bad, so I had to let my daughter go live with her dad here in San Luis [Obispo],” Phillips said.

She eventually had to abandon the tense environment at her apartment as well, and ended up living in her stepmother’s home. Still unable to find work, Phillips lost her car. Then, her stepmother was laid off, and the house they shared went into foreclosure.

“I was qualified for positions, but there are so many applicants,” Phillips said. “How do you stand out?”

With no home, no way to get to school, and no more ties to Yucca Valley, Phillips came to SLO. She had lived in the area off and on for 30 years and just wanted to be near her daughter.

“I’m grateful for the shelter, but I need my own space to feel like a person again,” she said. “But first I need regular money coming in so I can function.”

She's also looking for help winning custody of her daughter.

Phillips said she’s waited tables, cleaned houses, and cared for animals at a ranch. She has a friendly, approachable demeanor and said she’s good at answering phones and motivating people for team projects. She cut and styled hair before developing carpal tunnel syndrome, but she still has an extensive knowledge of beauty and hair care products.

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