When a 15-year-old girl was killed by a semi-truck in Otay Mesa in 2014, no one asked why she was walking in the far-flung industrial area in the first place – news reports instead focused on the fact that she was distracted by her phone.
But it turns out that the teenager was walking home from school, and her home was in a junkyard.
Many families in the region find themselves in these type of unsafe living situations. It’s hard to pin down the problem and come up with the right solutions, though, since most service agencies don’t define these families as homeless.
“Junkyards, storage containers and unused plots of land have become refuge for people who can’t afford to live in San Diego,” Maya Srikrishnan writes in a story that kicks off a new series on the hidden homeless families of San Diego’s South Bay.
The series took months to put together and includes in-depth stories, a short documentary, a podcast episode, photos and more multimedia elements made in collaboration with VOSD contributor Gabriel Ellison-Scowcroft.
Srikrishnan exposes a problem with how homelessness is defined and how families found living in makeshift housing are often being handled.