Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 7 / 15 February 2018

Donations sought to help formerly homeless woman


Janice Cason, left, talks with Rose Broome of HandUp about having her profile on the crowdfunding site.(Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland)
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A formerly homeless woman living with HIV who spent more than five years sleeping outside the Pottery Barn in the Castro has accepted housing through a city program but is now seeking donations from the community to help cover storage costs for her possessions.

Janice Cason, 65, had spent years living on the street in the Castro with her beloved cat, Goldilocks. City and nonprofit officials, let by Bevan Dufty in the mayor's office, were able to persuade her in August to accept housing at the Richardson in Hayes Valley. Dufty, director of the Housing Opportunity, Partnerships and Engagement program, or HOPE, told the Bay Area Reporter that a number of providers collaborated to help Cason find supportive housing.

While the city provides funds for Cason's housing through the Mayor's Homeless Fund, Dufty said that public money cannot be used for things like storage facility bills and has turned to the community for help.

"She may lose her possessions," Dufty said. "We need a little more to close it out."

Cason, who is straight, nonetheless supports the LGBT community and said she's a 30-year HIV survivor. She had previously lived with her best friend, she said, but became displaced several years ago.

"In the 1980s I came out here from Ohio and the community was marching down to City Hall to protest Reagan," she said, referring to early AIDS protesters who were fighting for federal recognition and funding to help those living with the disease.

Brian Basinger, director of the AIDS Housing Alliance, worked with Dufty to find housing for Cason.

"She was homeless for many years," Basinger said, adding that the good relationship he and Dufty built with Cason eventually led to her accept housing.

He added that they don't want to see Cason lose her possessions.

"She has accrued significant storage bills that she's not able to take care of on her own," Basinger said.

Cason is a former teacher and political activist. She described herself as "kind of reserved" and wanted to quietly ask for donations.

Dufty enlisted the help of HandUp, which recently launched a pilot project at the August Project Homeless Connect event to crowdfund for people it profiles. Founder Rose Broome said that Cason is currently being featured.

"People can make donations," Broome said.

Dufty said HandUp has helped raise donations for others and he hopes the community can respond to help Cason.

"It's a tool so that people can help donate," he said.

For her part, Cason said she would be grateful for any help from the community.

"I need help," she said, "I don't want a lot of fanfare."


To donate to Cason, visit


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