6/14/2012 7:35 PM ET|
America's own Third World
Annette Ramirez works at a church-run community center in San Bernardino, Calif.
San Bernardino, Calif.
● Population: 209,924 (2010)
● Poverty rate, households with related children: 36.5% (2010 census estimate)
● Unemployment rate: 15.7% (April 2012)
Being poor is new for Annette Ramirez. "When I first walked out of that welfare office, I came out in tears," she says.
The 44-year-old graphic designer from San Bernardino, Calif., used to lay out classifieds for the local paper and advertising for a beer distributor. She rented a four-bedroom house from her brother and was doing "OK."
But in 2008, in the midst of the Great Recession and just as the subprime mortgage crisis was popping the housing bubble, her brother lost his home, and Ramirez lost her job. Since then, she and her 11-year-old daughter have moved in with her parents, scraping by on $490 in state welfare payments and $300 in food stamps.
"I've worked so hard all these years. But now I'm right there with everybody else," Ramirez says.
San Bernardino has taken its hits over the years. On historic Route 66 in Southern California, the city of 215,000 was once a bustling bedroom community -- the 1950s birthplace of McDonald's and a 1970s "All-America City." But the thousands of jobs lost after the closing of Kaiser Steel in the mid-1980s and Norton Air Force Base in 1994 (about 10,000 jobs) rippled through the area's blue-collar workforce to devastating effect.
"We never recovered," says Marlene Merrill of the county's Community Action Program, which gets 20,000 calls a month from residents seeking help. The real-estate bubble in the late 1990s and early 2000s fueled a partial resurgence in construction and service jobs, but when the boom went bust, those jobs did, too.
Ramirez works for her welfare check, supervising the distribution of clothes, books and toys to the poor at a church-run community center.
-- Valerie Hamilton
VIDEO ON MSN MONEY
Daniel Robertson, 33, and 29-year-old Marlana Robertson were born and raised in Hattiesburg, Miss., and have known poverty all of their lives.
WHY DID THEY HAVE 8 KIDS?
I am sorry, if you have been poor all your life, and you have 8 kids, I no longer feel bad for you. You are not very bright! I am almost wondering the statistics on this, because I think the lower class is growing simply because they are out reproducing any other class. This is by no way science, but you see it in all communities, it doesn't matter race, black, hispanic, white, if they have more than 5 kids, 9 times out of 10 they are dirt poor.
I think greatter access to birthcontrol and sexual education might help put a dent in this madness!
Knew about his MS at age 15, can't work, but went ahead and had 8 children. When you can't afford to keep yourself, you need to keep it in your pants! And, how many of those kids did he pass that MS on to?
It's funny how Americans will give aid in the BILLIONS to other countries and we won't even give a single poor woman in the ghetto a toaster.
We'll step over the homeless right here at home, but give MILLIONS to the poor abroad.
The hollywood movie stars will step over a child that need adopting at home, but go to Africa and adopt a baby there.
Aren't we great people.
I don't know any of these peoples' situations personally, except what little details they have given us, but most of them seem to have brought poverty upon themselves. Having 8 kids when you know you are going to be disabled your entire life is ridiculous! As is staying where your "friends and family" are, in a town of only a couple hundred or thousand, when you know damn well that there are no jobs there! With the exception of the sick, homeless man, who actually travels to find work, the rest of these people are just making excuses. And I say this as a liberal. I am sick of the excuses made in this country for not having to support yourself.
I know times are tough, but eventually we are going to have to cut people off. We can't support everyone all the time, especially people who refuse to make sacrifices (like relocating or having less children) to better their life.
Hmmm... people single parenting... a married couple where neither works and they have EIGHT kids... people who refuse to leave their hometowns to seek work... golly, wonder why they're having trouble getting by, poor abused folks...
Rudolf, at least the illegal aliens you speak of are willing to pursue a better life... rather than sit back and expect it to come to them.
I understand there are people who cannot work for medical reasons, and they should not be left to starve, but neither should they be eating much steak... and there are those who would work, but their industry is suffering right now, same deal as above... but recognize that "from each according to ability, to each according to need" is the DEFINITION of socialism. "From each according they have more, to each because they feel entitled," that's just STUPIDism.
The homeless man in Atlantic City is at least making an effort... but there was probably a reason his sister's landlord said he couldn't stay at the house anymore...
What a sad comment on the state of affairs in what used to be the greatest country in the world.
Just look at us now...despised by the rest of the world for our foreign policies.
Basically broke! Actually even worse than that. Our entire government operates on borrowed money that we have no way of knowing how we will ever pay it back.
Millions without health insurance and many that have it, going broke trying to pay for it.
Unemployment that is at an all time high and the number in this article doesn't count all the people that have given up finding a job or used up their unemployment benefits.
The Middle Class is now the working poor.
Greed so rampant in our businesses it's just sickening!
A political system that's corrupt, ineffective and so wasteful it makes you want to puke.
And don't tell me to leave if I don't like it, because I spent my entire life working to make this country a better place and a better life for my family and I'm staying right here to voice my disgust for the way it's been destroyed. After all, isn't that what the thousands of soldiers that have died all over the planet were fighting for...our freedoms?
Yet we still have famous hollywood actors begging for our $$'s on tv commercial's to send overseas. Whatever happened to taking care of our own first?! Wow what a concept.
Want to get "the poor" working. Insist that to get their unemployment they have to show up each day witout fail at the unemployment office where they are formed into work gamgs and sent throughthe city with brooms, mobs, bags, pick up th gargage, scrape off the graffitti, an dsweep and mop the streets. Six hours a day 6 days a week. In the winter they get snow-shovels and brooms to clean up the snow. Work prgrams planting flowers in parks and beautifying the country.
In four weeks you'll cut the unemployed poor in half. Make sure the orders are only given in Englsih and you'll find out amazing that most illegals have learned English in record time.
Disciplinary problems simply lose their check. Extreme disciplinary problems lose their check forever and are sent to a re-education camp. Someplace like Magadan or Chelyabinsk.
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