For America’s swelling ranks of homeless, finding four walls and a roof is just the beginning.

Often, the formerly unhoused aren’t getting a home, but a vacant space, with no resources to set it up or stay there.

Amelia Rayno
1 min readMar 7, 2021
‘Gangster Granny,’ as she is called, lived on the streets for over a decade before receiving a Section 8 voucher. But moving in was just the beginning.

As the homelessness epidemic intensifies amidst the Coronavirus era, discussions about developing more public housing are reaching the forefront of political discussion.

But what happens after the often years-long process of getting a key? With so much at stake, and so many state and federal resources geared toward putting unhoused individuals in a home, how are we ensuring their longevity?

In many cases, we simply aren’t.

Often, Section 8 voucher recipients are moved into vacant spaces and essentially told ‘good luck,’ given no resources to achieve the bare minimum of items and services necessary to survive in a housed state.

Through the eyes of ‘Gangster Granny,’ a woman who has lived on the streets for more than a decade, we see just how greatly the system is set up for failure, even — or perhaps especially — when everything goes as planned.

Read the full column in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, here.



Amelia Rayno

Independent, nomadic journalist. Currently living in Buenos Aires. I write about homelessness/housing and U.S. foreign policy. IG: @ameliarayno.