Editor’s note: This is part IV of a series looking at the homeless population and issues in Auburn.
In 1990, Jessica’s Bartholow’s family became homeless when they were evicted from their east Auburn home. Bartholow, who is now a legislative advocate at the Western Center on Law and Poverty in Sacramento, believes the same issues that caused her family’s homelessness more than 20 years ago are still the cause of Auburn’s homelessness today.
“My mom was fully employed,” Bartholow said. “She worked as a seamstress and did ironing piecemeal from home.”
Bartholow’s father, however, was a veteran who suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and at the time of the eviction hadn’t been able to hold down a job for several years.
No one in Bartholow’s family had healthcare, and at her first doctor’s visit in more than a decade, other than the emergency room, Bartholow’s mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer.
“Life expectancy is not great for people who experience homelessness,” Bartholow said. “There is a real human cost.”
The rates of physical ailments are higher among the homeless than the general population, according to the National Institute of Health, and a study conducted by Marbut Consulting found that Placer County’s rate of chronic homelessness, at 27 percent, is much higher than the national average.
The study also found that today’s homeless population in Auburn, like Bartholow’s family, struggles with mental health issues, job retention, and that close 82 percent of the population became homeless while living in Placer County.
“It’s important that people know that those who are (homeless in Auburn) have roots there. They want to remain there, and they want to be part of the community there, too,” Bartholow said. “The simple fact is that we are not going to get rid of homelessness by making it illegal. There’s only one way to fix the problem, and that’s to make sure people have homes.”