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Homeless and heartbroken | A housing error reveals cracks in San Diego's homeless system

A family's struggle for disabled housing shows cracks in San Diego's homeless housing system.

Carlo Cecchetto, Dorian Hargrove

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Published: 11:29 PM PST February 16, 2023
Updated: 11:29 PM PST February 16, 2023

Stacey Daggett felt as if it was a new lease on life as she drove to inspect the permanent housing unit that she and her family had been placed into in March 2022. At times, Daggett, her partner Tiran Miller, and the couple’s two young children had thought it would never happen.

The family viewed the placement into permanent housing as a new beginning as well as an end to an extremely challenging two years.

“I was so excited,” says Daggett. “I looked at photos online and the unit looked so nice. I felt relief like this huge burden was finally lifted.”

But on the drive back to Father Joe’s Homeless Shelter after the inspection, the excitement turned to despair, to feelings of dissolution, failure, and hopelessness.

The housing unit that service workers had placed her family into was located on the second floor and not wheelchair accessible – her partner Miller, who is missing both legs and has a terminal heart condition could not make it up the stairs.

Daggett drove to the nearest gas station, sobbing the entire ride. At the station, Daggett gathered her breath and called Miller who was on his way to the new unit with the kids.

“I told him that they placed us in the wrong unit, told me that he wanted me and the kids to take it, and that he would go into a nursing home. He assumed it was his fault, that all this we had been going through was because of him. I would never split up my family. So we decided to go back to Father Joe's.

Now, nearly a year later Daggett and her family are lost in the bottomless vacuum that is San Diego County’s homeless crisis, where the unhoused are forced to feel their way through a dark and unsolvable, multi-dimensional maze, with little hope for a happy ending.

Daggett and Miller and their two children are now in a temporary shelter where they will remain until July. After that, the family will likely be forced back on the street.

They are among the thousands now waiting for their name to be called for placement into permanent housing. They are also among the thousands who are essentially left in the dark with little to no information on when and if that call will ever be made. Daggett and Miller join the thousands of others navigating a system that is pieced together by nearly three dozen service providers, and underpaid case managers, all feeling their way through an incomplete and meandering system.

As for Daggett, she fears that the call may come too late and her young son and daughter will watch their father live out his final days in a homeless shelter or even worse, on the street.

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