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Homeless Californians face new crisis: living outside in smoke-filled air

Susana de Sant’Anna hasn’t been able to take a full breath of air since about June 2015.

That was when she was hospitalized in San Francisco with severe sepsis, complicated by Lemierre’s syndrome – a rare infectious disease - and an abscess of the left lung. She underwent two lung surgeries, and in the two years it took her to recover, she burned through all her savings and became homeless. Sant’Anna has spent the last five years bouncing between shelters, transitional housing and friends’ couches.

Now, with wildfire smoke choking the city, fog for weeks on end and the lingering threat of a virus that affects the lungs, she spends her days hiding in a hotel room paid for by donations that she stretches by cutting back on food, knowing that just one breath of the smoky air outside could set her recovery back.

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