Before Jennifer Goins fell into homelessness, she owned a house in San Jose and a successful hair salon with more than a hundred clients. But as addiction took hold of her life, she lost the home and the business, eventually finding herself living out of hotel rooms with her two middle school-aged sons.
Her partner, Danny Hays, who was also struggling with addiction, stayed with them, as did his 9-year-old daughter. When the money eventually ran out, the entire family moved into the couple’s car. And when the car was towed, the kids went to stay with relatives, while Goins and Hays were left on the street.
The couple spent their days looking for their next meal or their next fix, and their nights huddled in the doorways of downtown businesses, guarding their few possessions.
“We wanted to be visible enough so normal people can see that you’re not getting assaulted, but hidden enough so the people you’re afraid of can’t see you and come do something to you,” Goins said.
After about three months on the street in 2019, a desperate Hays called a veterans crisis line, which connected him with the homeless services nonprofit LifeMoves. Within a few days, the couple had their own apartment at LifeMoves’ Haven House interim shelter in Menlo Park.