It doesn't take much prompting to get Sher'riee Jacob to talk about her life. Just ask her, and she'll tell a flabbergasting tale, complete with British royalty, vast wealth, inbreeding, bootlegging, familial intrigue and domestic violence. It's really quite head-spinning.
Sher'riee, 54, was in her electric wheelchair and holding an empty spare-change cup last Sunday at the downtown corner of Third Avenue and Broadway. Her 28-year-old son, who goes by the nickname “Marty,” was sitting nearby with another cup. She described him as “mentally handicapped.”
The pair has been in San Diego for about a year, having left Delta, Utah, after becoming fed up with wheelchair-inaccessibility issues there. “I like California,” she said. “I like the atmosphere; I like the people.”
She said she had some money when they left Utah, but more wheelchair issues caused her and her son to board a different bus than the one carrying her son's friend and their luggage. The friend wasn't a very good one: He rifled through their belongings and stole the money that she'd planned to use for a deposit on an apartment, she said.
She could spend her supplemental security income on a hotel room, but then she wouldn't be able to save up for an apartment, which she hopes to be able to afford come spring. For now, Sher'riee and Marty spend nights in the city's winter shelter.
“It's noisy at night, but I think it's a wonderful thing for us,” she said. “I'm not going to say anything bad about it whatsoever, because if it wasn't for it, I'd be out on the street right now. And it's cold outside.”
Like lots of homeless folks in San Diego, mother and son have had numerous brushes with the law. She said Marty's been in jail seven times for homelessness-related offenses, such as illegal lodging and loitering. She's been threatened with arrest several times herself—once for “theft of services” after plugging her wheelchair into an outdoor city outlet—but has gotten off with warnings.This story is part of a weekly series aimed at introducing San Diegans to their homeless neighbors, one name and face at a time. It's our way of advocating for more humane homelessness policies.