Homeless men and women are considered invisible people. Can you imagine being pregnant and homeless? That’s a problem all over the country and it became an issue in San Francisco when a homeless woman had a baby and gave it to a stranger, not knowing if it would live or die. NBC Bay Area’s Cheryl Hurd discovered how that incident could easily happen again.
Homeless and Pregnant on the Streets of San Francisco
On any given night, there are homeless women who are pregnant living on the streets of San Francisco. Brenda McMillin, eight months pregnant, is one of those women. Help for people like her does not come easy.
“It scared me because I was like, that could have been me,” McMillin said.
And she’s not alone. Earlier this month, a woman gave birth on a San Francisco street and gave her baby away to a stranger. McMillin said she can identify with the woman’s desperation.
“I was a baby born with addiction issues," she said. "My mom did a lot of drugs and alcholo and whatnot, so I have a lot of learning disabilities and mental health issues.”
At 24, life’s circumstances landed her on the street with only a month to go before delivering her first child.
Elizabeth Ancker, assistant program director of Compass Connecting Point, helps find shelter for people like McMillin.
“There is a medical priority process for women in the last month of their pregnancy or five months if they're high risk, but often they're vying for open rooms with children who have cancer or people with these really compelling other medical and mental health issues,” Ancker said.
There are just over 100 shelter beds for homeless families in the city, and if you are pregnant, you have to compete with people who already have children.
The need is becoming greater in San Francisco because the homeless population is growing.