Since we first met Liz Hirsch and shared some of her emails about her experiences being homeless, she has earned some money working part-time hours for a real estate agent. She’s been recognized at Starbucks and had fellow café-goers buy her gift cards. She’s so far slept at the Rescue Mission or at cheap motels and has avoided sleeping on the street.

But it’s important to remember, even as Hirsch so compellingly, and often optimistically, describes her situation, that her life is not easy. Whatever happens next will be complicated.

She’s still battling a cold, which she first told us about more than two weeks ago. “I almost went to the E.R. last night, I felt so bad,” she wrote Tuesday morning.

Her lingering illness compelled Hirsch to envision a place where ill homeless people could rest and recover before they get so sick that they are forced to visit an emergency room.

(Over the weekend, photographer Sam Hodgson met up with Hirsch as she ate some lunch and visited the Baras Foundation thrift store in Normal Heights.)

Spreading out the emergency room burden is a hot topic. Programs like Project 25 and Impact try to deliver services and care before someone goes to the emergency room. Our recent story about health care in City Heights explored the significant costs to the public when people go to the emergency room — the most expensive care — to be treated for non-urgent ailments.

Hirsch also said that one of the workers at the Rescue Mission is recommending her for the nonprofit’s yearlong residential program. She sounded excited about that news, but I could still detect discomfort from her illness.

I’m Kelly Bennett, reporter for Voice of San Diego. You can reach me directly at or 619.325.0531.

Disclosure: Voice of San Diego members and supporters may be mentioned or have a stake in the stories we cover. For a complete list of our contributors,“>click here.

Kelly Bennett is a former staff writer for Voice of San Diego.

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