Opinion | How to Raise a Happy Family When You’re Homeless

Homelessness in the United States takes many forms. For Elizabeth Herrera, David Lima and their four children, housing instability has meant moving between unsafe apartments, motels, relatives’ couches, shelters, the streets and their car. After 15 years of this uncertainty, the family moved into their first stable housing — an apartment in the San Francisco Bay Area — in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

Though they’ve always worked, the Herrera-Limas faced unprecedented and rapidly rising housing costs and the challenges of building good credit and job insecurity. These issues kept the family from developing permanent roots in the Bay Area, where top income earners make 12.2 times more than the lowest earners, according to the Public Policy Institute of California. They faced a life many Americans can’t imagine, but they always believed that together they could create a home for their family — with or without a house.

The short documentary above is a personal account of homelessness, family and inequality. Intimately filmed by Ms. Herrera, the film challenges our assumptions about what homelessness looks like, who can experience it and how to keep a family together under extraordinary circumstances.

Erika Cohn is a Peabody, Emmy and Directors Guild of America award-winning filmmaker.

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