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Table 2 Systems-level barriers to accessing resources, themes with supporting quotes

From: Intersecting systemic and personal barriers to accessing social services: qualitative interviews in northern California

Theme Supporting Quotes
Limited availability of necessary resource They know their clients need housing and all they basically got is like the counselors do the same thing there.They go online, they look what’s out there and they give their clients a stack of paper to call these numbers.But you call these numbers and there’s really literally nothing available, there really isn’t.People call and say “I’m looking for some housing” and they say what kind of income do you have?Oh, I don’t have any income, or people got Social Security, I mean what do people expect?You know what I mean?They do have shelters, if people are really that hard up for a place to stay there are shelters out there.There’s the Richmond shelter and a couple other ones that provide a bed and a couple meals and even a place to shower, come down to it. Male, English, No success
Housing was a little bit of a disappointment.But I don’t think it was the fault of them, I think it’s the fault of the Bay Area. Male, English, No success
Housing is very tricky...I had to opt for some sort of temporary, like a summer situation where I’m renting right now.But I haven’t really figured out the housing from that list.I did go and apply to get on a list for like disabled housing, but that didn’t really do much, because the lady did tell me “our list is pretty long and we only have how many units.”She recommended applying for a lot of places and then getting on as many waiting lists as possible, but it seemed like it was a long time, you know?Yeah, I didn’t get housing through there.It was mainly at a certain point I just realized I’ve got to do something, and I opted for like a summer sublet situation where I’m just renting a room for the summer, and then I’m not sure. Female, English, No success
Limited accessibility of necessary resource Every time I called them nobody ever answered the phone so I had no idea when I could go up there.She didn’t give me any times to go up there, like if they have open pantries or whatever.There was no like specification.So nobody ever answered the phone there so I was just like whatever.I didn’t really call back, because I don’t think I have any other pantries that are really close to me.I’m not sure, but I mean now I could really use it because I don’t have food stamps anymore. Female, English, No success
I don’t get around that well and the one [food pantry] I go to is really pretty far for me to walk.My only transportation is either my feet or a bicycle or public transportation out here.That’s not convenient to these places because unfortunately I have to walk someplace to get a bus to take it there. Male, English, No success
For us it’s really expensive because we do not know Martinez and there’s no one that can take us, so we had to take the train to McArthur and from there at McArthur to Concord and from Concord to Martinez, like that. And we spent $56 on the fare. Female, Spanish, No success
Strict program criteria They was saying I had too much money and I went to the Salvation Army in Richmond.They said I had too much money in the household.And then when I tried to explain the situation and whatever it was, they didn’t even want to go through all of that, so I just said forget it. Female, English, No success
I don’t qualify for food stamps, I don’t qualify for SSI, I’m in a loophole where I don’t qualify for anything but I don’t get nothing...I can’t work.I have a seizure disorder, I’m 40 years old.I have a seizure disorder that’s very bad, that keeps me from working.I have a memory disorder.I can’t drive, I can’t be by myself.I stay busy 24/7 and I’m on a lot of medication.But because of my age, it’s hard for me to get help. Female, English, No success
Complicated application processes It’s like you go to a place and you got to wait and then like you say, wait in line, and you got to fill out this paperwork and come back next week and see if you qualify.You got to play their little game with them...They say you got to wait for them to see if they accept you and approve it before they turn around and help you out. Male, English, No success
The only thing, I’m going through that list now, the Social Security, I’m finished with that.I haven’t turned in the application yet though, because I went online to see what else they needed.There’s more information I got to put on there for the doctor’s part.But they were very helpful.It’s just a long process....Not just that, but also some places won’t tell you they’re accepting applications, you have to actually walk in.Because I had to walk into one that was down in Richmond so I’ve got to walk into the other ones too, to make sure.They don’t tell you anything.You have a list and you call them, but they probably want you to just come there. Female, English, No success
Stigma associated with necessary resource No, I did not check the Albany pool, although a classmate of mine at Contra Costa College, she said, “Oh yeah, at the Albany pool they have a special group for low income people.”A group?It’s not like they plug you into a regular swimming class and no one knows about your low income except the clerk in the office.You know? (laughs) Female, English, Success
And it does sound like a good amount of money, but no, my children said no. “No, mom, maybe other people who have a greater need than you can receive it.” For that reason, I did not do it. Because my children are supporting my husband and I with that. Female, Spanish, Success
Lack of fluency in English/access to interpreter Particularly English is my second language and I’m not comfortable to ask any questions about anyone. Female, English, No success
Sometimes in clinic or in the beginning they ask me if I need translator. Sometimes the translator, when they speak, I can’t understand well what they’re saying in French. I say sometimes okay, I can’t understand. I try to understand, to talk to the person. Because their French is sometimes too difficult for me to understand. Female, English, Success
Immigration status and legal policies And I went to the module that’s in the middle of the hospital and they contacted me there and asked me for my social and I told them that no, I was an undocumented person. At the end they told me they could not make ther service available to me because it was for people who had documents. Female, Spanish, No success
So I told them that and they told me that I should go to a lawyer, that maybe, that because the whole I time I was working with a social that the government could give me help for unemployment or for retirement. And I tell you, I was with the unión for 10 years, for 21 years. But it’s very difficult until you have papers, maybe that help will come later… Male, Spanish, Success