Homeless child Theo Schrager, 6, relaxes in his hammock outside the tent he is living in  with his mom Leah Naomi Gonzales (not pictured) in Berkeley, California, on Monday, Aug. 19, 2019. They have been living in a tent at Strawberry Creek Park after bei

Theo Schrager, 6, who is homeless, sits in his hammock outside the tent he is living in with his mom Leah Naomi Gonzales (not pictured) in Berkeley, California, on Monday, Aug. 19, 2019. 

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Theo was born homeless and has spent his life in unstable housing situations. For nearly two years, Theo and his mother have been sleeping on the streets and in hotels after their RV was towed in July of 2018. Theo dreams of having a home one day where he can "bake chocolate cakes in an oven" and run around the house with a dog.

In 2019 Berkeley’s official homeless count showed no families with children that were unsheltered in the city. But Berkeley officials know well that Theo bounces between the city’s streets and hotels with his mother. Berkeley says they have tried several times to help the two find stable housing, without success.

Children like Theo who grow up on the streets face further troubles as they age, studies show. They have higher levels of emotional, behavioral and health problems, and are more likely to be separated from their families. They also have an increased risk of becoming homeless as adults.
Nearly asleep homeless child Theo Schrager, 6, rides on his mom Leah Naomi Gonzales' shoulders on University Avenue in Berkeley, California, on Monday, Aug. 19, 2019. With no money, Leah went to a Mexican restaurant to beg for food for her son. They have

Nearly asleep Theo Schrager, 6, rides on his mom Leah Naomi Gonzales' shoulders on University Avenue in Berkeley, California, on Monday, Aug. 19, 2019. With no money, Leah went to a Mexican restaurant to beg for food for her son. They have been living in a tent at Strawberry Creek Park after being unable to secure money for a hotel.

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Police officers gently ask homeless mother Leah Naomi Gonzales (center)  to move her tent where she has been living with her son Theo for several weeks at Strawberry Creek Park in Berkeley, California, on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019.

Police officers ask mother Leah Naomi Gonzales (center) to move her tent where she has been living with her son Theo for several weeks at Strawberry Creek Park in Berkeley, California, on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019.

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Homeless child Theo Schrager, 7 watches videos on his mother Leah Naomi Gonzales' (right)  phone while she begs for money on University Avenue in Berkeley, California, on Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. Sometimes she is able to get a decent amount of money but o

Theo Schrager, 7, watches videos on his mother Leah Naomi Gonzales' (right) phone while she begs for money on a median on University Avenue in Berkeley, California, on Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. 

Some days, passers-by are generous. Other days, Gonzales says, she takes in as little as $15 over several hours.

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Theo Schrager, 6, jumps up to ask the hotel attendant for a key to the breakfast room in order to heat up his dinner of macaroni and cheese at the Quality Inn Motel in Berkeley, California, on Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2019.

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Theo Schrager, 6, watches his favorite show SpongeBob Squarepants as he cuddles under the covers at the Quality Inn hotel in Berkeley, California, on Sunday, Aug. 25, 2019. 

Hotels sometimes provide shelter, but don’t promise stability. There’s always the fear of being kicked out with nowhere to go.

But they do have perks, Theo says. "I like hotels more than the tent because I get to watch TV."



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Homeless child Theo Schrager, 7, has his face and hair toweled off by his mother Leah Naomi Gonzales (right) on Halloween night in Berkeley, California, on Thursday, Oct. 31, 2019. Halloween is a tricky time for Theo and his mother because Halloween of 20

Theo Schrager, 7, has his face and hair toweled off by his mother Leah Naomi Gonzales  on Halloween night in Berkeley, California, on Thursday, Oct. 31, 2019. 

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Clasping her hands together Leah Naomi Gonzales pleads with her son Theo Schrager, 6, (left) to behave after he repeatedly tries to play video games on her phone as she tries to get him ready for the first day of school at the Quality Inn hotel in Berkeley, California, on Monday, Aug. 26, 2019. Leah tells him, "No, no, no. No video games. School. We gotta go in five minutes. It's 7:07 and the bus comes at 7:25."

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Homeless mom Leah Naomi Gonzalez and her son Theo Schrager, 7, fly a kite at Cesar Chavez Park in Berkeley, California, on Friday, June 12, 2020. Theo ran around trying to get his kite to stay up in the air but soon became distracted by people flying thei

Leah Naomi Gonzalez and her son Theo Schrager, 7, fly a kite at Cesar Chavez Park in Berkeley, California, on Friday, June 12, 2020. 

Gonzales tries to shelter Theo from the harsh realities of being homeless, celebrating holidays with flair and showering him with presents when she can afford it.

They go out on adventures like flying kites at the Berkeley Marina.

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After spending over an hour trying to put up a tent in Curtis Park, Leah Naomi collapses in her son Theo Schrager's, 6, arms as rubs her head and they fall asleep in Berkeley, California, on Sunday, Sept. 1, 2019. Theo helped put the tent together with his mom but they knew by morning it would have to come down again.

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Homeless child Theo Schrager, 6, watches his favorite show SpongeBob Squarepants as he cuddles under the covers at the Quality Inn hotel in Berkeley, California, on Sunday, Aug. 25, 2019. Theo says, "I like hotels more than the tent because I get to watch

Theo Schrager, 6, watches his favorite show SpongeBob Squarepants as he cuddles under the covers at the Quality Inn hotel in Berkeley, California, on Sunday, Aug. 25, 2019. 

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Homeless child Theo Schrager, 6, grabs a bundle of balloons at Dollar Tree and yells out "Mom, can I have them?" the day before his 7th birthday in Berkeley, California, on Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019. They walked around Berkeley all afternoon, showered at the

Theo Schrager, 6, grabs a bundle of balloons at Dollar Tree and yells out "Mom, can I have them?" the day before his 7th birthday in Berkeley, California, on Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019. They walked around Berkeley all afternoon, showered at the YMCA and took shelter in their tent at Strawberry Creek Park. 

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Homeless mom Leah Naomi Gonzales calls the front desk as she talks to her son Theo Schrager, 7, who was watching television in their hotel room at the Downtown Berkeley Inn Hotel in Berkeley, California, on Monday November, 11, 2019.   For nearly two year
Homeless mom Leah Naomi Gonzales calls the front desk as she talks to her son Theo Schrager, 7, who was watching television in their hotel room at the Downtown Berkeley Inn Hotel in Berkeley, California, on Monday November, 11, 2019. For nearly two years, Theo and his mother have been sleeping on the streets and in hotels after their RV was towed in July of 2018. Theo dreams of having a home one day where he can "bake chocolate cakes in an oven" and run around the house with a dog.
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Homeless child mother Leah Naomi Gonzales and her son Theo Schrager, 6, stand in a tent encampment off of Eastshore Highway as they look for a wheel for their bike cart in Berkeley, California, on Sunday, Sept. 1, 2019. They spent the day searching for a

Leah Naomi Gonzales and her son Theo Schrager, 6, stand in a tent encampment off of Eastshore Highway as they look for a wheel for their bike cart after the wheel had been stolen in Berkeley, California, on Sunday, Sept. 1, 2019. 

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Theo Schrager, 7, stares down at the creek still half asleep as his mom Leah Naomi Gonzales (not pictured) packs his lunch outside of their tent at Strawberry Creek Park in Berkeley, California, on Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019. 

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Homeless child Theo Schrager, 7, passes out party hats to his classmates in his first grade class on his 7th birthday at Thousand Oaks Elementary School in Albany, California, on Monday, Sept. 23, 2019.   For nearly two years, Theo and his mother have bee

Theo Schrager, 7, passes out party hats to his classmates in his first grade class on his 7th birthday at Thousand Oaks Elementary School in Albany, California, on Monday, Sept. 23, 2019. 

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While his mother Leah Naomi Gonzales (not pictured) folded their laundry, homeless child Theo Schrager, 6, bored and full of energy jumped into the washing machine to play at the the Laundry Room on San Pablo Avenue in Berkeley, California, on Sunday, Sep

While his mother Leah Naomi Gonzales (not pictured) folded their laundry, Theo Schrager, 6, who was full of energy jumped into the washing machine to play at the the Laundry Room on San Pablo Avenue in Berkeley, California, on Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019. 

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Homeless child Theo Schrager, 7, flexes his muscles in the mirror and says, "Look how strong I am mom!" as he sits on his hotel bed at the  Downtown Berkeley Inn Hotel in Berkeley, California, on Wednesday, November, 13, 2019.   For nearly two years, Theo

Theo Schrager, 7, flexes his muscles in the mirror and says, "Look how strong I am mom!" as he sits on his hotel bed at the Downtown Berkeley Inn Hotel in Berkeley, California, on Wednesday, November, 13, 2019. 

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Homeless mom Leah Naomi Gonzales puts her hand to her face as she realizes it is her son Theo Schrager's 7th birthday as they awaken in their tent at Strawberry Creek Park in Berkeley, California, on Wednesday, September 23, 2019.  For nearly two years, T

Leah Naomi Gonzales puts her hand to her face as she realizes it is her son Theo Schrager's 7th birthday as they awaken in their tent at Strawberry Creek Park in Berkeley, California, on Wednesday, September 23, 2019. 

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Homeless child Theo Schrager, 7, holds a peanut butter and jelly sandwich his mom made him for lunch during shelter-in-place at the LaQuinta Hotel on Thursday, May 21, 2020, in Berkeley, California.  Theo has been homeless since he was born. For nearly tw

Theo Schrager, 7, holds a peanut butter and jelly sandwich his mom made him for lunch during shelter-in-place at the LaQuinta Hotel on Thursday, May 21, 2020, in Berkeley, California. 

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Homeless child Theo Schrager, 7, and his mother Leah Naomi Gonzales carry their belongings as they move from being outdoors in a tent to the Downtown Berkeley Inn hotel in Berkeley, California, on Sunday, November, 17, 2019.   For nearly two years, Theo a

Theo Schrager, 7, and his mother Leah Naomi Gonzales carry their belongings as they move from being outdoors in a tent to the Downtown Berkeley Inn hotel in Berkeley, California, on Sunday, November, 17, 2019. 

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Homeless child Theo Schrager, 7, (left) takes gauze off of his mother Leah Naomi GonzalesÕ arm as she rests in the hospital with severe stomach and back pains on Christmas Eve Tuesday, December 24, 2019, in Berkeley, California. While at the hospital Theo

Theo Schrager, 7, (left) takes gauze off of his mother Leah Naomi Gonzales arm as she rests in the hospital with severe stomach and back pains on Christmas Eve Tuesday, December 24, 2019, in Berkeley, California. While at the hospital Theo looked at his mother and asked,  "Are you going to die?" She said, "Horribly. Just kidding. Come here. Am I gonna die? Mommy has been pretty sick but no honey I'm not gonna die I don't think. It's not a dying day." 

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Homeless mother Leah Naomi Gonzales (right) restrains her son Theo Schrager, 7, after she scolded him for stealing balloons from a window display on Wednesday, May 20, 2020, in Berkeley, California. ÒStupid!Ó Theo yelled as he attacked his mom in the stre

Mom Leah Naomi Gonzales (right) restrains her son Theo Schrager, 7, after she scolded him for stealing balloons from a window display on Wednesday, May 20, 2020, in Berkeley, California. "Stupid!" Theo yelled as he attacked his mom in the street, "Stop it right now, you've got to quit it!"she said as she tried to restrain him. 

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Homeless child Theo Schrager, 7, rests at the base of a tree at Strawberry Creek Park where he is staying in a tent with his mother Leah Naomi Gonzales (not pictured) in Berkeley, California, on Sunday, November, 17, 2019.   For nearly two years, Theo and

Theo Schrager, 7, rests at the base of a tree at Strawberry Creek Park where he is staying in a tent with his mother Leah Naomi Gonzales (not pictured) in Berkeley, California, on Sunday, November, 17, 2019. 

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Homeless mother Leah Naomi Gonzales stands in the hallway with her son Theo Schrager, 7, as they prepare to move their belongings from the Sens Hotel to La Quinta Hotel on Wednesday May 13, 2020, in Berkeley, California. Theo has been homeless since he wa

Leah Naomi Gonzales stands in the hallway with her son Theo Schrager, 7, as they prepare to move their belongings from the Sens Hotel to La Quinta Hotel on Wednesday May 13, 2020, in Berkeley, California. During the coronavirus pandemic, Theo's life has lacked structure. No school has meant many hours on the computer. His mother Leah says that they both had the coronavirus early on but Theo says he can't remember what it felt like because the virus "wiped my mind".

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Homeless child Theo Schrager, 7, sits in the middle of the aisle at Safeway as a customer looks down at him on Wednesday, May 20, 2020, in Berkeley, California.  Theo has been homeless since he was born. For nearly two years, Theo and his mother have been

Theo Schrager, 7, sits in the middle of the aisle at Safeway as a customer looks down at him on Wednesday, May 20, 2020, in Berkeley, California. Theo has been homeless since he was born. For nearly two years, Theo and his mother have been sleeping on the streets and in hotels after their RV was towed in July of 2018. During the coronavirus pandemic, TheoÕs life has lacked structure. No school has meant many hours on the computer and increased irritability.

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Homeless child Theo Schrager,7, throws a blow-up doll across the room in a rage as he realizes that hs and his mother Leah Naomi Gonzales have to move out of the hotel room they have been living in with nowhere to go at the Downtown Berkeley Inn hotel in

Theo Schrager,7, throws a blow-up doll across the room in a rage as he realizes that he and his mother Leah Naomi Gonzales have to move out of the hotel room they have been living in with nowhere to go at the Downtown Berkeley Inn hotel in Berkeley, California, on Sunday, Decemer, 8, 2019. 

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(L-r) Homeless child Theo Schrager, 7, holds on to his mom Leah Naomi GonzalesÕ hand as he cries out ÒPuppies, I want puppies.Ó as they look for puppies at their friends tent under the Gilman Street underpass in Berkeley, California, on Friday, June 12, 2

Theo Schrager, 7, holds on to his mom Leah Naomi Gonzales' hand as he cries out "Puppies, I want puppies." as they look for puppies at their friends tent under the Gilman Street underpass in Berkeley, California, on Friday, June 12, 2020. They spent the afternoon looking for their friend Elf who has two new puppies. Theo loves dogs and desperately wants one. "Mama, I want one and I want one now." Theo declared. She answered, "Theo, I have way too much to take care of. There's just no way we can have a dog in that hotel room."

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Homeless mother Naomi Gonzales takes her son Theo Schrager, 7, into her arms as she sings ñYou are my Sunshineî by Johnny Cash as she soothes him to sleep in a tent under the freeway in Berkeley, California on Monday, July 13, 2020. Naomi and her son Theo

 

Naomi takes Theo in her arms as he rests his head against his mother’s chest as she soothes him to sleep in a tent under the freeway in Berkeley, California on Monday, July 13, 2020. 

Gonzales kisses Theo’s forehead. She sings, her voice mingling with the sounds of the freeway, until he falls asleep. You’ll never know dear, how much I love you … Please don’t take my sunshine away.


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