a1Her earliest childhood memories are of being homeless. She recalls how her mother struggled to support her and her siblings while they lived in their car. “She taught me to be strong and independent,” Emmethia says. Now a grown woman, she’s passing that same lesson along to her 10-year-old daughter, Kaliyah. “I make sure she focuses on her education so she doesn’t have to depend on any man to take care of her.” a2Kaliyah loves animals, and her goal is to be a veterinarian one day. But she’s also always loved acting. “I want to support her dream,” Emmethia tells me. “She’s the world to meā€”there’s nothing else.”

Emmethia wanted to give her daughter the life she never had. She worked long hours as a medical assistant, but then a debilitating illness forced her to go on disability. Still determined to provide for her daughter’s future, she and Kaliyah took a chance and came out to Los Angeles from Chicago by train three years ago. Before leaving, she gave her rent money to a friend to hold onto her apartment in Chicago in case things didn’t work out. But after a few months, Kaliyah started getting opportunities as an extra on some commercials and TV shows. Ready for the long haul, Emmethia searched for an apartment. That’s when she found the eviction notice on her record. It turned out that her friend back in Chicago was financially desperate and had been keeping the rent money. “No one would rent to us, so we had to stay in motels. I was in tears. It got to the point where I could barely feed Kaliya.”

Finally, they had no where else to turn but to the shelters in Skid Row. a3“The first time we came out here, it was a shock.” Emmethia tells me about the challenges of raising a child in an environment filled with drugs, violence, and severe mental illnesses. “Some things you can’t hide from her. But if we walk past a dead body, I tell Kaliyah the person is sleeping.” Still, Emmethia is using these circumstances to teach her important life lessons. “I want her to always remain humble, and never forget where we came from. I know we’ll make it out of this. I know she’s gonna be someone great. But first, I need to be an example for my daughter.”