Heartbreak and Yearning on the Streets of East Oakland

Columnist Joe Mathews Goes Nightcrawling

Kiara Johnson, 17, lives at the Regal-Hi apartments on High Street in East Oakland—for now.

She doesn’t have the money for next month’s rent, which her landlord is doubling. She can’t rely on parents—her dad’s dead and her mom’s in prison. The bus pass she uses was stolen.

For work, she begs for more shifts in a liquor store. But that’s not enough for her to support her older brother, who won’t get a job, and to take care of Trevor, her 9-year-old neighbor, who is living alone because his mother has …