This is what Camila doesn’t have: a supportive partner, stable housing, family assistance or a reliable income. This is what Camila has: a new baby, a room in a homeless shelter and a few college credits. Camila also possesses grit, drive and intelligence. But can sheer determination and relentless drive defeat homelessness? Journalist Lauren Sandler finds out in This Is All I Got: A New Mother’s Search for Home.
For one year Sandler became part of 22-year-old Camila Alvarez’s life, witnessing her search for a safe, affordable home in New York City. Determined to finish her degree, Camila attended classes full-time while she also juggled childcare, filled out endless forms and waited in endless lines to secure housing for herself and the baby. Scarcity of housing, a bureaucracy seemingly modeled after Dicken’s Circumlocution Office and the nationwide erosion of social safety nets thwarted her at every turn.
At times I wanted to hug Camila, at times I wanted to scold her, but I was always in awe of her tenacity. If you enjoy books like Nicholas Kristof’s Tightrope or Matthew Desmond’s Evicted – well-written books that educate and infuriate – then you will want to add This Is All I Got to your reading list.