Jerry Longoria, a San Francisco security guard, presented a case study in working poverty for a 2006 PBS documentary. He lived in a single room occupancy hotel, “probably one of the cheapest places you can find in San Francisco.”
“It’s just a room and I’ve been here for two years. There’s a shared bathroom. It just seems I know I can do better than this. For this small space I pay $530 rent. I can probably find something more affordable in the outskirts of the city but it would probably jeopardize my job. If you’re late two or three times, you probably won’t have a job. One of my fears is being homeless. I’ve been homeless before and that’s hard.”
After Mike Stephens’ sociology class at Oak Park and River Forest recently watched the documentary about Longoria’s struggles to make ends meet, some students wanted to know how Longoria was doing more than a decade later.
Stephens put one student to the test, asking that she try locating Longoria. The student passed. On Monday afternoon, the class had a follow-up phone call with the security guard. We’re still waiting to hear the outcome, but at least we know that Longoria is well enough to keep sharing his story. More to come.