Every morning in the Tenderloin, when people all around San Francisco are starting to wake up, around 30 people gather at St. Boniface Church, waiting to go sleep. This is the story of one morning.

5:45 a.m.

When I arrive, I see Josephine Piroelle bundled up in two hooded sweatshirts, a hat, and mittens.

“Like a car runs on fuel, a person won’t run without any sleep,” she tells me.

Piroelle has been homeless on and off for a while. A month ago, she says, her boyfriend kicked her out of his place.

Finding a home on Hotel 22

Feb 11, 2015
Isabel Angell

I’m on the Valley Transportation Authority’s Line 22 bus somewhere between East San Jose and Palo Alto. It’s 2:30 a.m., and it’s raining. I start a conversation with a man sitting down, and ask him if he’s heard the nickname for the bus.

“Yeah, well there's the Motel 22 or Hotel 22. That's the big one I've heard.”

I ask him what he calls the bus.

“I call it home.”

Photo by Alyssa Kapnik,

A lot of things make San Francisco a unique city -- and one is the sheer number of dogs.  There are more dogs than there are children.  Something like 120,000 canines inhabit this metropolis, and thousands of those dogs are dropped off at local shelters each year.  Lost, abandoned, orphaned or mistreated by former owners.

Imagine having nowhere to sleep, now, imagine that reality if you’re older, and maybe you suffer from illness or decreased mobility.