Palo Alto Online & Palo Alto Weekly: Lack of housing takes heavy toll on health

Grace Kim counts it as a small miracle that she is still alive today. Her late teenage years were a blur of drugs, alcohol and mental trauma -- the byproducts of an abusive family life, she said. Couchsurfing was preferable to going home, and she would crash at friends' homes whenever she could. She was depressed, suicidal and constantly suffered from sharp pains in her stomach that she later learned were ulcers.

Her saving grace came at age 17, when a high school counselor helped secure her a room in a transitional living program. Although her new living situation was far from ideal -- lodging with about 10 other teens with their own emotional baggage -- the shelter was a lifesaver for Kim, and she credits it with allowing her to slowly move forward. Picking up the pieces of her life felt like a constant struggle, but she said she eventually landed a restaurant job and enrolled in community college. Kim's hard work led to a full-ride scholarship to college, and she continued her education at graduate school.

Read Mark Noack's full article here.