September 16th, 2010
10:41 AM ET

A family's first time at the poverty line

"Maria, " who was too embarrassed to give her true name, sits with one of her sons as she finds herself living below the poverty threshold.

The Census Bureau has released its annual poverty report showing more people are living at or below the poverty threshold. This means many are finding themselves there for the first time.

“Maria,” who was too embarrassed to give us her true name or allow us to photograph her face, says she and her husband have had to sell their most cherished possessions.

“We sold our wedding rings, our furniture, everything,” said Maria.

Trying to get help from government agencies is presenting problems too she said because their house, the mortgage for which is more than the its value, is considered an asset. She has two sons, the younger one suffers from Autism. During the interview she begins to break down and her older son, only 12-years-old, has to take on the very adult role as comforter.

CNN’s Jim Roope says it’s one of the hardest interviews he’s had to do. Filled with emotion and sometimes despair, but “Maria” does have hope.

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soundoff (616 Responses)
  1. justme

    $21k is the threshold for poverty?!!!! For a family of four?!!!Outrageous. Who is the idiot who came up with this number and how much does he/she make? Does anyone else find this number ($21k/year) to be ridiculously low for determining poverty? Disgusting.....

    September 16, 2010 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Stan


      Yes 21k/ month is ridiculoously low, and that is just a part of the signs the country is becoming a third world crap hole. The government sets the bar lower so they can point their fingers at the people and use the non-whiners for examples of contended living.

      September 16, 2010 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
    • markglicken

      Where are the Hilary Clintons and Oprah Winfreys with their tens and hundreds of millions of dollars? They are populists until it is time to reach into their own wallets and help those in need.

      September 16, 2010 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
    • markglicken

      Poverty in this nation is 3 square meals, free medical, a cell phone and a color tv.

      September 16, 2010 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
    • markglicken

      Yeah, and add to the $21,000 a huge earned income tax credit, food stamps, free medicaid and section 8 housing. One can do ok on $21k.

      September 16, 2010 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      21k a year is considered poor?..only in this spoiled self-delusional country. I'm sorry you can't afford air conditioning, cable, and cell phone on 21k but it ought not be considerd poor. Get some cheap housing and give up the 3 bedroom house, for a long time entire families lives in areas smaller than the average 1 bedroom apartment in this country. We are spoiled. I have no problem with anyone living well, if they can afford it, but damn... 21k is a lot of money to be considered poor. For entire human history we did without everything people think is neccessary. ditch the air conditioning, vehicles, telephones, and large houses and I bet you could make it on 21k.

      September 16, 2010 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
    • Katie

      Why can't there be a list of people or Maria let us know what State she is in.. There are people who may be able to help. I am feeling the economic crunchI and have been out ofwork but I have an extra bedroom and I am sure there are others out there who could help in some way. I was raised in Philadelphia where we helped our neighbors when they needed it today to often we turn away.

      September 16, 2010 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |

      Walk down to the local social services or medicaid facility and see all the BMWs and Mercedes double parked out front. Then come back and tell me 21k /yr means anything at all. Most of these people are not married and enjoy unreported income under the radar. They simply know how to work the system. Fraud and abuse run wild. The need to put in place checks and balances so those who truly need the assistance can be assisted and those who don't can be prosecuted for fraud.

      September 16, 2010 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Squeezebox

      They really need to adjust the poverty line by the county you live in. New York City is much more expensive to live in than Columbus, OH for example.

      September 16, 2010 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Roscoe Chait

      You are right. 21k is ridiculously low for a family of 4. My girlfriend and I have difficulty getting by on about 30k, and we live in a mobile home, with a reasonable mortgage. The biggest problem is the government and their onerous taxation system. No matter what I try to do to better myself, the government has its hands in my pockets. They are like thieves in the night. I'm not asking for a handout, but for gosh sakes the government is the problem. When are they going to wake up to the problems of the middle class? Reducing income taxes does not help much if you don't have much income. But why is the government double and triple taxing us? They bail out those criminals on Wall Street, but do little for real people trying to live their lives.

      September 16, 2010 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
    • josephknots

      The economy is growing and removing for some people. People on pension funds from factory work, or from government jobs are not affected. People in high places in government and corporations are doing well. The restaurants on the weekend are busy which a sign that Obama stimulus is working is. The money going to travel to the corporate fat cats. The waitresses and waiters are getting less tips than 2 years ago because allot of people are more tight in spending.

      September 16, 2010 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
    • junior

      markglicken, they are in the same place as the catholic church. Hoarding their money and helping no one.

      September 16, 2010 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Mikeisright

      To Chris and markglicken: 21k is the official poverty line for a FAMILY OF FOUR. Not individual income, total household income FOR A FAMILY OF FOUR (4). Individuals are considered impoverished at 8k a year. GET YOUR FACTS STRAIGHT BEFORE YOU LITTER THE INTERNET WITH FALSE LANGUAGE!

      September 16, 2010 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
    • John

      We ran into this in NY state not to long ago, they were complaining that people on welfare were living well below the poverty line in the state, but you need to look behind the numbers.

      Firstly they only count cash payments toward your income, so someone on welfare might only get $9k a year in case so that is their "income" but they don't consider the fact that they might also get several thousand dollars worth of food stamps, get medicaid, and have their rent, utilities and even child care paid for by the taxpayer (hell where I live they even get provided cellphones with a certain amount time on it each month.)

      So basically how much could all of you live on if you never had to pay any money out of your pocket for rent, utilities, medical care, utilities or food?

      September 16, 2010 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • markglicken

      Mikeisright: Get your facts straight. A family of four pays no income taxes and receives n earned income credit of at least $3000. Add $1000 a month in Medicaid benefits and about $800 a month in food stamps. They now are living on the equivalent of $44,000 a year. Not a bounty, but if you rent a modest apartment and prepare your own meals, you can do fine.

      September 16, 2010 at 12:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • nortel1

      Its really relative to where you live: $21K in San francisco– it would be impossible (rent on my studio is 15K a year). But my grandparents live in tiny town nowhere Michigan and rent there is $400 a month for a 2 bedroom split level.
      I think the people who comment this is absurd! live in New York City, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, San Diego. But a family of 4 in rural Nebraska can probably do it with $21K. I'm sure we set our poverty levels on a national average but don't take into account that if you lose your job and home, you won't pack up your San Fran home and head to the cheapest area of Wyoming.

      September 16, 2010 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      Absolutlely... it is low for ONE person let alone four.

      September 16, 2010 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Juleslady

      I want to know how the electricity company get away with charging me not ONLY for the electric I use but the fuel THEY need to make it? Can no one else see how totally ludicrous this is? And when they have a "surplus" of electricity they sel it to a neighboring state??? do i get to charge the other state for the electricity which I paid the fuel to produce?

      family of 3, both parents unemployed, one on benefits, recently qualified for food stamps, mort $750 currently overdue...

      September 16, 2010 at 12:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lisa

      People from all walks of life abuse the system. For example I don't think enlisted military families should qualify for WIC benefits but they do, and somehow the no one feels ashamed for using them!

      September 16, 2010 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • B. P.

      And we continue to send aid money to other countures??? AMERCIA FIRST! No more aid overseas as long as one American family lives in poverty!

      September 16, 2010 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • JS

      I bet the same idiot figured this number before taxes are applied. I make 27,000 a year, I take care of my girlfriend and three small children. I live in whats considered a low income apartment. That to me says POVERTY. I get excited for tax returns.

      September 16, 2010 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kelly

      Yes I think it's awful. It's like every penny you make it's being taken by taxes, insurance, the goverment etc. It's feels like Americans are working like little ants to support the rest of the world and I see NO end to it. It's makes no sense. To bad that the goverment doesn't pay attention to what the American people are saying. We need to start right here at home. Helping our country for a change. GOD BLESS AMERICA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      September 16, 2010 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • DD North Carolina

      Yes. It is sad and riidculous. The politicians, democrats and republicans, and big business have sold this countries soul for a stinking dollar. Our economic situation is in bad shape and will probably get worse according to most economists. Americans need to really start hanging together and buy American only whenever possible. The people in this country are getting more upset by the day. All the policticians worry about is keeping the democrats in power or the republicans getting control back. Whenever I hear the Bushes and Clintons talk about NAFTA or the World Economy it makes me want to puke. Ross Perot was spon on when he said the only thing you that would happen when NAFTA was implemented was a sucking sound of jobs leaving the US. I bleed red, white and blue and I am angry at what has happened in this country. Where did those new people at the povertly level come from – the middle class. The middle class is shrinking rapidly in the US.

      September 16, 2010 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • MissRainyDay

      I'm 30, single, female. I live in Seattle where 'low-income' housing still costs 650-800$/month for a small studio apartment.

      I work for a major coffee chain and make just over minimum wage. At 30 hours per week, this amounts to 1050$/month. Once I take my health insurance payment (85$/month for the crummy care), I'm barely left with anything to cover rent, much less afford the 30$ copay plus 20% on my health insurance.

      Thank heavens I have food stamps, else I couldn't afford to eat. My student loans are indefinitely deferred, because I make so little money. I don't like mooching off the system, in fact, it's rather embarrassing.

      I have a college degree from a top tier University and have applied for jobs all over the spectrum. I'm too educated to get a secretary or receptionist position that pays a couple dollars more an hour, but not educated enough for more intensive jobs.

      Yeah, I'm living in near poverty, but somehow, I'm surviving. I get books from the library, movies from the same. I never go out, spend all my time at home and have essentially lost hope of ever getting ahead.

      So, I understand living in poverty, and it grinds my nerves when people call me lazy or ignorant because I'm taking handouts. Yes, there are some people who use and abuse the system, but MOST are simply folks who are down and out on their luck.

      September 16, 2010 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Goldielover

      It really depends on where you live. If you live in an area where housing is reasonably cheap, then one can manage on $21,000.00. However, where I live, the average cost of a 2 bedroom apartment is $1,150.00 per month, and even a dump rents for about $1,000.00. So if one rents a dump, then one is left with $9,000.00 a year ($750.00 a month) to pay taxes, utilities, public transit to work or school, and still hopefully have enough to feed and clothe the family. I know I make less than $21,000.00, but there are only two of us. I don't have a car, cable tv or air conditioning, and my one luxury is the internet, which my daughter who is in high school needs for school anyways, as she has to log into the school network from home to access a lot of her work done at school (no flash drives allowed due to virus issues). We cut corners where we can. My daughter last year decided to help save $80.00 a month by walking to school, which takes her approximately 45 minutes each way. A little rough in the winter when there may be a couple of feet of snow with the temperature nudging 0F. My own job is too far away to walk to, especially as I use a cane. She takes her own lunch as it is cheaper than buying lunch in the school cafeteria. For myself, my own cut was eliminating two meals a day. Eating once a day is quite survivable providing one is careful to make that one meal as nutritious as possible. We buy no fast food or expensive packaged stuff. Clothing is worn until it literally falls off, and I have learned to do as my mother did and now mend clothes and darn socks rather than just throw them away. Most of the furniture is old – relics of better days when I had a good paying full time job. We survive, but only just. I try not to whine, but tell myself that I am way luckier than many, as a few years down the road I will have a fairly decent company pension , and my income will be approximately $12,000.00 a year higher than it is now. I just have to get there.

      September 16, 2010 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • The_Mick

      As someone who grew up in the poorest family on the block, note that you can get by with just-at-the-poverty level income IF rent doesn't eat up your money. My mother was paying on a mortgage and had about seven years of plenty before falling into years of famine. By then the mortgage payment cost less each month than most people spend on rent. Without that cost break and occasional help from my parents siblings, we'd have lost the house despite the fact my mother had a full-time job as a key-punch then computer operator (women were paid 60% a man's wage in the 60's) and dad was disabled. But the experience helped my siblings and I learn how to get the most out of our money and we've spent our adult lives in comfortable financial situations, but we STILL comparison shop, cut coupons, delay gratification, etc. I still feel guilty lathering jelly on bread -we grew up spreading it thin to make it last. The current poverty level for a family of four is $22050 per year (I assume that's net income). After spending a typical (going by the local Penny Saver's rent ads) $800 for rent and utilities for a 1 bedroom apartment, that leaves about $250 per person per month. With a lot of store-brand mac & cheese and hotdogs, etc. a family can get by, but if you don't have a car (my mother's situation), you may not often have access to an Aldi or a Costco and you shop at local high-priced corner stores or go where your friends choose to shop and it drives your grocery bills up. For us as kids, that meant no gloves most winters, but we got by somehow. Fortunately, we always had BCBS insurance since employers could afford to provide it. Today, for a family at the poverty level, the children's health insurance will be entirely picked up by SCHIP. The adults will be, for now, uninsured in the only nation in the entire developed world that allows that to happen!

      September 16, 2010 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chad

      I live on 7k a year. Rent, phone, cable, food, entertainment. People have a hard time distinguishing between wants and needs.

      September 16, 2010 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • dashabi

      21K is okay if you don't use drugs

      September 16, 2010 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • bjmanning2003

      Google "Mollie Orshansky" if you want some insight into the pseudo-science that was employed to create our federal poverty line.

      September 16, 2010 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • m

      well, if her name is really "maria" then she's got a free ticket for medicaid, food stamps & any other kind of welfare out there.

      September 16, 2010 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Egmast3k

      It depends where you live.

      My friends in Texas have a 2-story house for what it costs to rent a 1-bedroom apartment in my area. Even then, it's a nice place to live, and I live very comfortably on <$15k/year by myself. I could do by with less if I cut the cell phone, got a land-line, and dropped my high-speed internet for a lower-costing package.

      My food bills are <$140/month since I make my own bread and cook my own meals. With a roommate who could pay even $300/month, I'd be buying fancy meats and cheeses.

      $21k does seem low, but that's why they call it the "poverty line," not "the comfortable living" line. With government assistance, it should be okay.

      People just get caught up because they can't imagine not living with cable TV, the family cell-phone plan, the car, and buying meals they could easily make at home. Keep in mind, the poverty levels in other countries are literally living in a tin hut with a straw mat for a bed.

      Perspective can, occasionally, be a wonderful thing.

      September 16, 2010 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lloyd

      Hey just me,

      I just finished my microeconomics class, the census is the 'idiot' who came up with the figure, so don't be so harsh. Google the word poverty and read up on it, and find out where the poverty level is before you are so harsh, you will learn something just like I did. It is very fascinating.

      September 16, 2010 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Austin

      21k a year for a family for 4 where im from is really really good, but im from where the standard of living is very low so i think it depends on where your at, most people look at big cities or something to do surveys like that.

      September 16, 2010 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • bjmanning2003

      In my experience, the vast majority of people who complain about "welfare" can't even give you the specific name of the policy they are complaining about . Since the advent of TANF, which replaced AFDC (the program you still think is in effect), people cannot receive a significant amount of money because they simply need it or have children. In NC, the maximum amount of money you can receive for so-called "welfare" is around $300 a month and you can only receive these benefits for a limited amount of time and if you prove you are working/looking for work. If you know someone who receives a government check for more than this it is because of another form of government assistance such as disability, survivor's benefits, unemployment, child support payments taken from your children's father, etc.

      September 16, 2010 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • vanessa

      The town I live in is full of people that wake up, leave their free house, get on the free bus (if they don't have a car nicer than mine) go to the store and get free groceries, take their multiple children to free doctors and free daycare and go to free college. All while I struggle in an efficiency because I was responsible enough to not have children and wanted a better degree. I have no sympathy. I work part time and am out injured and will be okay because I save money, drive a 13 year old car, and don't charge, charge, charge. Boo hoo live within your means and take birth control

      September 16, 2010 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mr. Man

      I think that every year when Uncle Sam reaches his greedy, decrepit hand into our pockets for tax money there should be a litte box on the tax return of every American citizen where they can enter the exact percentage of their taxes that they wish to be used for overseas concerns...if any! I don't think it should be LEGAL for our government to use any of our funds to help other countries if we don't want them to and when our own is in such bad shape.

      September 16, 2010 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • GuestInMichigan

      $21,000 is fine for one person. The problem is that people want to become a "family of four" on minimum wage. I do not have sympathy for individuals that choose to have children without being able to adequately afford them financially.

      September 16, 2010 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • rc

      Two people making minimum wage earn over 30K per year. Need both parents willing to work. If one is sick and can't work, ok i'll help. If someone keeps having kids when they can't afford them why does that become my responsibility? If a parent is a deadbeat and not paying support, let him clean up parks, wash police cars, clean graffiti or do something to serve the public if they want us to pay for his children. Let's see if that doesn't motivate them to get real jobs and pay up.

      September 16, 2010 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Teri

      It's really unfair to have a set value for the poverty level when the cost of living varies widely across the US. The only two places who get "special" values based on cost of living are Hawaii and Alaska. Having the same value in NYC and in rural MS to determine poverty is ridiculous. $21,000 is not a bad wage in certain areas, while in others it won't even pay the rent.

      Also, how can they consider the house an "asset" if they owe more on it than it is worth or if the value of it is dropping? Wouldn't that be a liability?

      September 16, 2010 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • JYV

      @markglicken. $21k a year or if you work a 40 work wee $10.10/ hour is not a lot of money for a family of four. At that yearly salary one would qualify for $60/mo in food stamps, if the wage earner(s) has medical benefits they would not qualify for medical. Fortunately children do qualify medical reqardless of their parents income.

      September 16, 2010 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Anon

      Oprah should help people like these instead of sending audience to Australia!

      September 16, 2010 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • MikefromWV

      It gets even worse. If you, as a single person, apply for medicaid, the federal government says you can live on $200/month. That is what you are allowed as a deduction against any income you may have, irregardless of what your rent and utilities and food actually are. And it has been at that $200 level for over 25 years. It has never been modified or increased. Try and live today for that amount of money. And politicians on both sides are too cowardly to try and change it.

      September 16, 2010 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • DARLA

      21k a year, Do the Math People, that is $1750 per month, that doesn't account for the taxes that taking out of that, at least 300.00 now you have $1450.00, Now pay rent or Mortgage, depending on where you live, let's say $600.00 a month, that's $850.00 per month, now you have a car payment, insurance, lights, water, trash, daycare if you have kids, and then you have to buy groceries. This is poverty level! Most people in today's society are single parents, they do not have the luxury of a second source of income, you can't always count on child support. They apply for gov't assistance and told depending on where you live that you earn too much, or we can only give you $100.00 for food stamps. Until you have walked in their shoes, don't say it too much money. I know I have, I worked my way from $7.00 an hour job, supporting a husband who is disabled, and raised two kids. It's not easy but can be done. You have to have a phone now a days, whether it be a cell phone or home phone, it is a necessity if you are waiting on that phone call for a new job, etc. I was actually happier when I was poorer, I learned to be more self sufficient.

      September 16, 2010 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Justme

      Honestly you people talking about BMWs at the welfare office and 21k a year for 4 people are delusional. My sister is a paraplegic, she was shot driving down the street 23 years ago. She lives off of 9380.00 a year. 700 a month in Social Security and 1000 a year in food stamps. She pays 350 a month rent because she has been on a list for housing for 7 years and still isnt near the top. I would like to see ANY of you live on that. See how you like eating plain boiled rice the last week of the month. And FYI Medicaid doesnt pay for everything. She quite often goes without insulin at the end of the month. Fix the welfare program. Make it so people who have more kids once on Welfare dont get any more. Make people who come into this country not be able to get anything from the system for 10 years. Fix taxes, I make 43k a year, own a home and last year I took home 24K after taxes.

      September 16, 2010 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Murtle

      Been reading some of the posts here and have to say I'm disgusted....Obviously, if you have never been poor you think poor people can make it if they just really try....what the crap is that about? A family of 4 CANNOT live on 21,000 a year-where I live, that doesn't even qualify for food stamps. I get so freaking disgusted with you people who look down on folks--YOUR DAY IS COMING! Looking forward to seeing how humble pie tastes at your house!!!

      September 16, 2010 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tint

      People who think a family of 4 (including one with challenges) can exist on 21k a year are delusional. It's easy for maybe a single person or a couple to survive with that amount, but not with young kids.

      September 16, 2010 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • celticprof

      @markglicken–don't know where you are, but in OK a senior citizen on an income of $650.00/month only gets $10.00 (ten dollars) in food stamps.

      September 16, 2010 at 5:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • daniel

      It is set using a combination of average salary, average housing costs, average essentials etc. No one person determines the cap and furthermore it is for one person, not four.

      September 16, 2010 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sharon Yeates

      Yes, it is ridiculously low. It is unrealistic.

      September 16, 2010 at 6:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • David

      Yes, 21k is way too low. Has any tried to apply for food stamps? Its not that easy. Its ashame that is seem only a certain segmant of the population keeps getting richer while everyone else gets poorer.

      September 16, 2010 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Militarywife

      Lisa, why do you think enlisted military families should not qualify for WIC benefits?

      September 16, 2010 at 9:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cnote

      A am very sad for the children that are coming along. What kind of world will they grow up in? I doubt I will ever do as well as my parent or grandparents. The money is gone and I really don't think it's coming back the was it was a few years ago. Most everyone was doing well until the market crashed. Am making about 20% of what I was 3 years ago and see no money in construction for years to come. In both the Bible and The Art of War " A Kingdom divided cannot stand", ancient quotes. I believe it's true now and I fear for the children, who are entirely innocent in this mess. C

      September 16, 2010 at 10:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jenny

      I wish I had $21K a year. I am currently raising 3 children on about $1,200 a month... Our rent alone is $745. My son also has autism, pretty severely. We could live in low income housing, but they wouldn't allow special locks and window guards to keep my son safe. We do what we have to do, buy clothing when it's on sale for very cheap. It's nice because my parents do help out with stuff from time to time, but I don't like to depend on them so I typically accept help only for things such as medications for my son, or like when my oldest daughter wanted to play soccer and it cost $165. Poverty isn't anything new in America. I've never had much money, so I can't speak for what it's like to well financially and then not have money. Be resourceful is about all I can say. I wish you the best, but now you know what millions of others are going through. We might be poor but my kids are all safe, loved, and happy and that is the most important thing.

      September 16, 2010 at 10:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sara

      I make just a bit more than she does. Have a son, rent, etc. I have a cell phone but not a home phone, no cable, no extras. I gave my car back to the bank. I lost a decent job due to the economy and was laid off 2 years ago and have been working menial ever since. I could be on the dole but refuse. I am finally about to break down and get some subsidized health care due to a health issue. It sucks. I even gave up a nice car back to the bank to cut expenses. I am barely making it.. So you jerks saying that 21k is a lot of money have no clue what you are talking about.

      September 17, 2010 at 12:03 am | Report abuse |
    • windrider2

      markglicken sez:
      A family of four pays no income taxes and receives n earned income credit of at least $3000. Add $1000 a month in Medicaid benefits and about $800 a month in food stamps. They now are living on the equivalent of $44,000 a year. Not a bounty, but if you rent a modest apartment and prepare your own meals, you can do fine.
      You obviously didn't read the article or you would know that the family's house, even though the mortgage is under water, is considered an asset and nearly all social programs cap family assets at only a couple thousand dollars. That means they're not eligible for most social safety net programs.

      They DO pay income tax, at least at the city level, where there are no exemptions of any kind: you pay a flat percentage of your gross income, period. Where I live, it's 2%. They may also have to pay State income tax. They most certainly have to pay social security & medicare tax (7.65%). So kiss at least $2000 year off their income, so now they have $19,000 for a family of four.

      Medicaid is not a cash benefit, it provides no income to them whatsoever. It's only an economic benefit if you can use it, and medical services are pretty restricted under Medicaid. I'm not sure their autistic son would be eligible for the kind of treatments he needs if they are restricted to Medicaid. Again, there's a cap on assets to qualify for Medicaid, so they may not be getting it at all.

      Food stamps depend on where you live. Here, a family of four gets about $520 a month. And nothing for non-food items like soap, deoderant, detergent, toothpaste, etc.

      Incidentally, Section 8 lists were closed more than 3 years ago, and the remaining waiting lists are at least 2 years. Public housing, such as it is, also has a very long waiting list. So it's no help to this family.

      Most communities do not have enough affordable rental housing because when Bush pitched his homeowner initiative for subprime borrowers, developers went crazy building single family homes, not apartments. A one-bedroom apartment in Columbus, Ohio averages $575/month plus utilities. That's probably cheaper than their mortgage but it still takes $7200 out of their remaining $19,000 income.

      Still think they're making out like bandits?

      Privileged people who've never lived in poverty have no idea how bad it can get, and how hard it is to get any kind of help, the help you paid taxes for all your working life. And then they have to put up with the ignorance and contempt of people like you who just dismiss them as deadbeats and worse.

      I'd suggest that before you run your mouth about how well a family in poverty can live, I suggest you live in poverty for 6-12 months and then come back and spout off. Because you don't know ANYTHING about it unless you've been there.

      September 17, 2010 at 12:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Lesa

      I just sold a household of furniture and moved in with family...I start a job tomorrow and thought at this age I wouldn't have to start over...times are hard and getting harder.....not applying for help as there are those far worse off than I......

      September 17, 2010 at 12:23 am | Report abuse |
    • jack


      September 17, 2010 at 2:12 am | Report abuse |
    • jack


      September 17, 2010 at 2:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Liutgard

      @markglicken, you are delusional. A) Medicaid aren't benefits that get paid out. They pay straight to your healthcare provider, and ONLY for what Medicaid pays for. Which ain't much. And B) I don't know where you are, but you don't get on Medicaid just because you feel like it. In Oregon you have to win the frakking lottery- literally- JUST TO APPLY.

      You seriously lack in empathy. You'd better hope that you never need any.

      September 17, 2010 at 2:58 am | Report abuse |
    • kagth

      that is way to low, i make not much more then that,and its hard.i cannt get any help.

      September 17, 2010 at 3:50 am | Report abuse |
    • Joseph

      You can thank rep. and the dem. the last few yrs they do not have the american publics welfare in mind.Sent all our jobs overseas hows that help america.World economy will not work it takes 2 1/2 earths resources to support one earth.China,s economy will fail because they lack one very important resource water.They are in the process of damning up rivers to southeast asia and to bangladesh. This is how wars start.I might be a little negative but I know human nature.Also all the back door deals leading to the signing of nafta I dont see the rep. and dem. in office having to figure out wether to pay the phone bill or buy food.

      September 17, 2010 at 6:00 am | Report abuse |
    • militarymama

      Have you ever been in the military? Enlisted people don't make a lot of money. Yes the benefits of free medical, and the option to live on base, provided there is a house on the base available for you, are good. But when you have 2 kids, and are stationed in California, the paycheck only goes so far. The rent out here will eat up your entire housing allowance, for most apartments. Then throw in the crooks at PG&E, the utilities are brutal. If you are an enlisted E1, you make a whole whopping 17,364 dollars in base pay a year, before they tax it. So assume you have a wife and 2 kids, and are stationed in a high cost of living location. You will more than likely be on WIC or Food Stamps, if you want to eat. Even as an E5, living on base making just over 31k a year, before they tax it, makes my famliy of 4 have to budget, mainly because of being stationed in a very high cost of living area. So please move to San Francisco, and see just how far 21K will get you, or maybe for a better challenge you should try it as an E1 who is new to the service, and survive on their base pay.

      September 17, 2010 at 6:57 am | Report abuse |
    • Chuck

      @ are obviously out of touch with reality. What's your magic poverty number for this country?! These are NOT the old days. Wake up. In the past, I had 100% medical coverage with BCBS when I worked in an aircraft manufacturing plant. What do you get for medical insurance now? Do you even have a clue as to how many so called American based companies are shipping jobs overseas to India and China? 100's of thousands each year, and growing. You are the same person who cries about where are all the good jobs, and moan about grass cutters who come in to this country illigally and take away all of our good grass cutting jobs. You have NO clue.

      September 17, 2010 at 7:37 am | Report abuse |
    • chicagogam

      yah i've always thought it was interesting that minimum wage was fixed (essentially going down due to inflation) but government taxes are a percetage. it would make more sense to derive it each year as a function of ave housing and food costs. poverty line too though i'm not sure how thats derived.. didnt a gop senator say the 260,000+ earnrrs were hardest hit by the recession? we should focus on them instead. 🙂

      September 17, 2010 at 7:47 am | Report abuse |
    • Sumguy

      The sad fact is that $21K would be considered upper middle class if you look at the world as a whole. $21K will put a roof over your head and put food on the table...probably not much more then that. That's why it's considered the poverty line. Anything below that and survival becomes difficult.

      September 17, 2010 at 8:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Joy

      The governments figure are always to low for reality. I'd like to see any of them pay living expenses, mortgage pmts, buy food & buy insurance on that figure.

      September 17, 2010 at 10:14 am | Report abuse |

      21K is low – housing is unaffordable at that income. We barely make it on twice that because of needing to use credit for illnesses. Add to this vehicle expenses (gas is going up again) and food (going up because gas does) and even two people have difficulty. Necessities of life should not be so far out of reach, but they are.

      September 17, 2010 at 10:17 am | Report abuse |
    • Beth

      This is horrendous.

      21,000 a year for a family of FOUR???? That's 1750 a live off of. My RENT a month is 1200 -_- I don't understand how you could feed, clothe and shelter 4 people with that amount of money :/ It's awful :/

      September 17, 2010 at 10:28 am | Report abuse |
    • LEB

      I had a hard time living on $25K when I was SINGLE. I don't see how a family of four can live on anything less than $40K a year, and in many areas of the country even that's impossible.

      September 19, 2010 at 6:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kay

      They had a report on CNN that interviewed three women in poverty. One mother said their income is $7000 a year. Now that is extreme poverty!

      September 23, 2010 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  2. bailoutsos

    Based on 2009 ending stats. Since it takes time for things to change in the economy, thank you baby Bush.

    September 16, 2010 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
    • Ben

      Yup, after two years, its still Bush...even though it continues to get worse. Whose fault will it be next year. I believe it will be Bush's fault until the Republicans win in November and again in 2012. Then it will skip Obama completely and be generic Republican #1's fault. What a load of Mullarky!

      September 16, 2010 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
    • truefax

      @Ben it's not gettting worse, the economey is picking up significantly. Sorry if it hasn't reached you yet it will, don't give up hope.

      September 16, 2010 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Biggles

      Your absolutely right, it takes a long time for things to change... SO... THANKS CLINTON!

      September 16, 2010 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Howie2g

      I don't have a problem with republicans defending Bush buy personally I have yet to see one post, ever, from any republican admitting to the fact that this disaster occurred on his watch, he did the first stimulus and chose not to regulate wallstreet at the behest of Greenspan. If you're truly fair then all sides are to blame, not just the administration with the daunting task o fixing it.

      Personally I don't care who wins in November as long as they, without partisan bickering, really help the average everyday American and not just those who voted for them.

      September 16, 2010 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
    • WarrenG

      Don't blame Bush....blame the idotic democratic congress that's been in power much longer than OBama.

      September 16, 2010 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • rabidantirepublican

      That's right it's Bush's fault and will continue to be his fault until we're out of this mess. It took him eight years to create this mess, you're not going to fix it in two. It took 12 to get out of the great depression.

      And while we're on it, what happened to that $700 billion that Bush threw at the banks right before he left office? Not one penny has been accounted for.

      September 16, 2010 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • TwM

      Lol Rabid the $700mill has for the most part been paid back by the Banks with interest. Thank You Bush.
      That said Bush started two wars and allowed the Democrats in congress to pass garbage like the community reinvestment act which started the housing phenomena. Greenspan and Bernanke both raised rates and when Adjustables reset they were too high and now the fixed rates were also too high. This created collpase. As more houses hit the market, the speculators (who btw could have afforded their mtges) walked away from their obligations laughing all the way to the bank. This added more homes to the market and now people trying to sell could not get value. More foreclosures. We elected Mr. obama on his Hope and Change platform, sounded good but with what he inheritted and then his own mistakes in spending we settled further down into stagnation . Remember people Liberals want to balance out the equity of wealth in our soceity(wealth redistribution) in actuality driving us closer to becoming a third world economy. Castro is even saying his economic philosphy ( Which Obama has adopted in part) is extremely flawed and doesn't work. Obama has succeeded in redistributing wealth here, not one liberal can deny this fact. The health care reform is exactly that charge the rich to pay for the poor. Now he wants to end the tax cuts on only the richer Americans. Things are going to get worse before we see any light.

      September 16, 2010 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • D

      All these comments blaming Democrats and a Democratic Congress......two things, first Most of us knew the economy was tanking way before Dem's even took congress (i saw it coming and sold my house and pretty much everything I had, and know several others that did but NONE of you would listen back then either) and secondly, they COULDN'T of passed legislation that would have even gone into effect fast enough to cause these problems, it is absolutely impossible, and especially concerning anything financial, you have to have time for those laws to go into effect...which pretty much proves there is absolutely NO way they could have done it. So quit passing the buck and own had a President that bankrupted everything he ever touched, we warned you, you elected him anyway, and he did what he always did. Period.

      September 17, 2010 at 8:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Chuck

      Yes long as Republicans favor big businesses who are reaping the benifits of tax cuts, while sending 100's of thousands of jobs to India and China, it will be thier fault. If Dems do the same as Bill Clinton has done, then they will be to blame as well.....see you at Wal-Mart, where you'll soon be either a greeter, or a full time shopper. BTW, try and find a product there that IS NOT manufactured in another country.

      September 17, 2010 at 9:33 am | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      During the 8 years Bush was president Republicans had control of BOTH BRANCHES OF CONGRESS for 6 of those 8 years. Republican voters are liars just like their party. They're so arrogant it's literally impossible to accept responsibility for what they've done to America. 100 years from now schoolkids are going to read about this time in history and the shame from Republican voters support for Karl Rove, Limbaugh style politics will still be as sharp as it is today.

      September 17, 2010 at 10:22 am | Report abuse |
  3. lisa

    it makes me sick to hear this poor woman and her family suffering! This is what Obama has done to all of us, we used to live somewhat comfortable, and now we are poor, giving all our money to bailouts and stimulous. Never listen to government they ALWAYS LIE.

    September 16, 2010 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
    • Justin

      With all due respect Lisa, do you really want smart people to buy that Obama is to blame for this? Seriously... what's killing our country is people like you, playing for one team without caring about the rest. This is not about Reps/Dems, etc. Unless you are ready to make a smart comment, I will suggest you stay away from any conversation that could show how ignorant you are.

      September 16, 2010 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      You do know that the bank bailout happened under Bush, right? Obama did push through stimulus funding but he didn't hand it over to the banks.

      September 16, 2010 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
    • Miss M

      Obama did his best, he DID NOT CREATE THIS MESS !!! Please do your resarch. The real reason we are STiILL in this mess, is because the government does not really know how to pull us out of it. We are on new ground. The remedy that worked for the depression, is not working for us, the world has become uch more complicated since that time. IF you think you can do better, then run for office !!

      September 16, 2010 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
    • michael

      Give me a break lisa, Obama has only been in office for 18 months. Are you so stupid you think all of this happened in the last 18 months! Maybe you need to go back to school and get a brain!

      September 16, 2010 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
    • American who actually reads the news

      ummmm. What's with all this Obama bashing? It was Bush who flushed our economy down the drain, started an expensive and useless war, and passed tax cuts and deregulation that benefited his cronies at the expensive of the ordinary people. Obama is trying VERY VERY hard to pick up the pieces. He passed healthcare reform which will benefit poor and middle class Americans with subsidies (he would've done more but Republicans and tea partyer got in the way). He passed the stimulus bill and extended unemployment benefits. He also developed programs such as Cash for Clunkers and Mortgage assistance. He is keeping tax cuts for poor Americans.

      Wow. Americans really do have short memories.

      September 16, 2010 at 11:10 am | Report abuse |
    • jayw

      Seriously Lisa. Shows your ignorance in politics and condition of our country. Bailout started in Bush era, 8 years of ignoring our economy by Bush has led us this far, and now blaming Obama during his less than 2 years in office. Republicans are becoming dumber by minute.

      September 16, 2010 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
    • JG

      Good grief... Have you been living in a cave for the past 9 years? If you feel the need to thank someone, thank the Bush generation. Obama inherited this nightmare and if you think he (or even a Republican) can fix this stinkhole in 8-9 months you need therapy and a big dose of reality.

      September 16, 2010 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
    • cm

      you are a total idiot

      September 16, 2010 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
    • stell what the hell

      you're kidding right? You think Obama made this mess in the less than 2 years he's been president? wake up call, this started under Baby Bush!

      September 16, 2010 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Trying to blame Obama is actually funny...all of the other replies here have it are not very bright. It's people like you that don't have the brainpower to earn a salary above the poverty level.

      September 16, 2010 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Susy

      I don't think it has anything to do with Obama. I am better off now then when Bush was president, should I give all the credit to my President? cut the BS! You have to adjust to the times, if you no longer make the cut go back to school or do something to get better.

      September 16, 2010 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |

      Newsflash people. It doesn't matter whether it's Obama's fault or not. Politics is perception and the perception is that people had jobs and money under Bush. They don't under Obama. Who will pay the price in November? Hint: Bush isn't running.

      September 16, 2010 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Howie2g

      You do know the recession started in 2007 right ? I wonder who was president at that time? Hmmm....Bush.

      Unless Obama had the best disguise known to man, and desired by every major film company for special effects, it wasn't him.

      September 16, 2010 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Charles Cheng

      I noticed that there are more replies to your posting than anyone else's. I am glad we have a lot cool headed people out there, however, I worry that by November the GOP will retake the congress by votes casted by people thinking like yourself. Sad for the country, we deserve what we are!

      September 16, 2010 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
    • Art W

      "You do know the recession started in 2007 right ? I wonder who was president at that time? Hmmm....Bush."

      I wonder who controlled CONGRESS (and with it, the purse-strings) at the time? Hmmm . . . Democrats.

      September 16, 2010 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Howie2g

      Yeah and were lied to by Greenspan who admitted he was wrong when he testified to congress about deregulating wallstreet and the scam of derivative markets. Hmm.... I wonder who appointed Greenspan.

      September 16, 2010 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      Actually these issues are not the fault of any President, except as related to Obama's previous job as Senator and the House and the Senate are the ones truely to blame for our problems.

      Remember it was the Congress that pushed for banks to give credit to people with poor credit, sure the banks found a way to profit off it for the short term and yes it came back to bite them, and us, but ultimately it was the Congress that forced the issue onto them so who really is to blame?

      Basically Congress handed the banks a turd, and yeah the financial houses polished it up but at the end of the day it was still a turd.

      September 16, 2010 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lee

      Bush with a Congress both houses controlled by Dems. They make the laws, come on, you all talk about getting real, it was both parties that got us here. Bush was Pres, but Dems controlled both houses for the last 6 of Bush's 8 years. A little fact everyone likes to ignor.....

      September 16, 2010 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Howie2g

      Greenspan resisted the regulation of the subprime market and the derivative markets, even after he was told by numerous people that the "bubble" is going to burst. Congress put it's trust in the Fed. Chair, as they should, and he was wrong and admitted it by keeping interest rates so low for so long and no regulation. Anyone in insurance knows if the "law of large numbers" so with that said if you, in terms o lending, do not have a fair distribution of risk then you are at risk.

      September 16, 2010 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • rabidantirepublican

      Hey Lee, you got your numbers backwards there dude. Six years of Bush and Republicans in control of congress, two years Bush and Dems.

      September 16, 2010 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • G.S.Hadley

      well then lisa......using your own criteria........the bush admin and the republicans had 4X longer to lie to us...........while, of course, there is no evidence whatsoever that the the present admin has never been anything but truthful to all of us regardless of what it was about.

      September 16, 2010 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • FEDUP

      Republican or Democrat who really cares? It is the entire Government, both parties, that have spent us into oblivion. They are completely disconnected from their consituents. Show me one Poor politician!!!! It's a government of the people, by the people, for the people! Or have we have forgotten that. Government relies on us to function, not the other way around. I dont need folks who cant run their shop telling me how to run mine.

      September 16, 2010 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • denise

      also look at the mess bush jr did to austin texas as gi=ovenor of texas and jeb bush did to florida going hand in hand or should I said money in their pockets from big business , strip mining and other devious and underhanded business practices they were bought to assist by deregulating laws put in place to protect our green spaces and air quality...Hey why not ask and see if they will help you..oops ....wrong they only help they rich

      September 16, 2010 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • elvis costanza

      You need to start getting information somewhere other than FOX and the Tea Party. I realize it's easier to demonize people and play the victim but you're just ignorant and intellectually lazy.

      September 16, 2010 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • jonsy

      Wrong, Lisa. The GOPers had control of Congress from 1995 on. It was their profiteering-oriented policies that caused this recession we are now in.
      Also, that $21,000 poverty line for a family of 4 is BEFORE taxes! That means the family actually only gets about $17,000 to live on. NOT good.

      September 16, 2010 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • IrassJ

      So, it was Obama's fault 30 years ago when I was a kid and my mother, brother and I were living in an old trailer house with no heat – in Northern MN, mind you – eating pancakes every night IF we had the means to make them? Give me a break – people are in poverty for different reasons – we couldn't afford to move, there was – and still is – no public transportation to an area where there was a better job and we had no car. So, we had to survive on my mothers wage as a bartender in a town of 137 and depend on friends to bring us groceries or, if we were lucky, get a ride to "town". Regardless – during my "childhood" and teen years, there were Dems & Repubs in office. Pick one – I'd like to blame someone.

      BTW: I now take care of my mother. I pay her bills – she can't live off of Social Security and never had the opportunity to put anything away for retirement. So, to the person who made the snide comment about the woman in the article, and of course she gets assistance if her name is Maria, I'll have you know that THIS MEXICAN (Yeah, I am Mexican) is taking care of the Caucasian woman who adopted and raised me. But, hey – thanks for stereotyping.

      September 16, 2010 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kelly5

      Lisa, your remarks are ignorant of recent and more distant history. The bank bailout was Bush's doing (October 2008); the stimulus has been creating jobs all over the country. I have seen ARRA signs next to ARRA projects in several states. For you to blame our tanked economy on a president who has been in office for less than two years is ridiculous. A national economy, particularly the U.S. economy, which is either the largest or second largest in the world, is a vastly complex and huge system of interlocking systems. We should not expect our president to be an economist. We do not elect an "Economist in Chief." This is why he surrounds himself with economic advisers, which leads me to an accurate calling out of who is responsible for the economic mess the country is in. The same advisers around Obama have had their hands in the U.S. economic pie for decades. They are for the most part white wealthy oligarchs educated at Ivy League universities who know how to manipulate the economic machinery so that the wealthy become wealthier, the middle class gets bled to death, and the poor class grows ever greater by the day. The class warfare in this country has been waged by these Ivy Leaguers for a hundred years at least, and unfortunately Obama, with some exceptions, is kowtowing to them. I hold him responsible for not choosing economic lieutenants whose policy recommendations would shore up the middle class and reduce poverty rates nationwide.

      September 16, 2010 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sarah

      All that in two years, huh? Obama must be more powerful than God...

      September 16, 2010 at 8:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • D

      Newsflash right wingers...Many of us were in this boat WAY before Bush left office and the Democratic get over yourselves. Even if the Dem's were responsible as so many of you wish to point isn't even practical, they couldn't pass legislation that would even have gone into effect as quick as this country went down. You were just cushioned..most of us knew it before Bush even had his 2nd term, it's why the election was so hotly contested and so close.

      September 16, 2010 at 10:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Liutgard

      Nope. Lisa if you think this one is Obama's fault, you're wrong. Chalk it up to Bush and all of his daddy's friends, including Greenspan. But the economy would have been in a LOT better shape if our tax dollars had not been poured down two rat holes in the Middle East. Halliburton and KBR and all that gang 'lost' a pile of our cash over there, and they're laughing all the way to the bank. That's money that could have been spent on schools and roads and clinics HERE. Not to mention the thousands of our soldiers who would be alive and whole. Nope- it's Bush's fault. I have a fantasy (and it's only a fantasy, so you guys in dark glasses can shove off) of punching him in the face. Funny thing is, even in my dreams, there's a line ahead of me, and believe me, it's long...

      September 17, 2010 at 3:08 am | Report abuse |
    • nonymouse

      Congratulations to everyone who vented their spleens at Lisa. You have either convinced one of the few compassionate people left out there that Democrats are evil... or you fell for a clever troll. In any case, I guess we know who who got schooled.

      September 17, 2010 at 6:17 am | Report abuse |
    • IamnotGod

      Your an idiot and probably a Republican. So that explains your ignorance and having NO knowledge about what you speak of. Your pal, George W. Bush (another idiot) is the only to blame for this country's financial woes.
      Say what you want about President Clinton, but when he was in office EVERYBODY was had more money in their pockets.
      So know the facts before you open up your pie hole you call a mouth.

      September 19, 2010 at 7:41 am | Report abuse |
    • LEB

      So you think that the middle class was large and prosperous up until 2008, then suddenly took a down-turn when Pbama came into office? Wrong-o. The American middle class has been on a decline since the 80s. You know, when the FIRST George Bush was president. Obama has inherited a nearly 30 year old problem that started when he was in his 20s.

      September 19, 2010 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse |
  4. justme

    You don't think a family of four is poor unless they make 21K/year?! As if $25k/year for a family of four isn't poor?

    September 16, 2010 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
    • wishing

      I blieve that is what the artical was refering too was 21K a year. but it is still bad. due to I have a young adult son who can barely make 4 K a year and that is why so many of the younger generation can neve move out on there on putting more of a burd back on the family.

      September 16, 2010 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
  5. LiberalNN

    Absolutely tragic. Why are celebrities and politicians bending over backwards to help people in other countries, yet people here in America get the shaft?

    September 16, 2010 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
    • InDEBTforLIFE

      I absolutely agree with you. It's the same with the government-we are more concerned with helping other countries in need, when there are plenty of Americans who need help too. What happened to Country First?

      September 16, 2010 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Bunnie

      They're helping those in other countries because it's cool. Helping out Americans would pierce the wall of denial that there's really something wrong going on in our country.

      September 16, 2010 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Fig1024

      because there's a large number of your fellow citizens who get angry when other citizens get government handouts. It drives them mad. So it's much easier to help poor people in other countries

      September 16, 2010 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • TwM

      Because many feel that American have it too good. They want to look wonderful in the Worlds eyes, they could care less for Americans.

      September 16, 2010 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • biglio

      Because the Us is supposed to be a first world country and the government like in ALL first world countries is supposed to take care of its citizens.......but thanks to republicans the US is not going to be a first world country anymore, only for its army, like North Korea. Just wait a little bit if republicans get back in power and you'll see foreign celebrities start giving aid to Us citizens too.....

      September 16, 2010 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kat

      Have you ever been to a third world country? People don't starve to death in the US. Go to Africa or India and you have thousands of people who starve to death every year. Go to Mumbai India and people live in little tin shacks on top of garbage. They search garbage for food. No one lives like that in the US. We do have a problems with our system no doubt but not to the extent where they are literally starving to death.

      I am grateful that I live in America. I'm fine paying taxes so that people have services if they need them. Is the system perfect – NO – but it is a thousand times better than many other places on Earth. I would rather send $1000 to someone who is truly starving to death in Africa than someone who is on food stamps in the US driving a Jaguar and wearing designer clothes while I'm wearing clothes from Target and driving a Honda (yes, I was behind someone in the grocery line who used food stamps then walked out to his fairly new jaguar in the parking lot wearing an Ed Hardy shirt and Ray Ban sunglasses.)
      I find that most people who bash American have never been anywhere else to see what true poverty is and to have a goverment that literally lets their people die by the thousands.

      September 16, 2010 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kim

      Kat, try going to a local church or synagogue and working a soup line. The people having to resort to that kind of help aren't just homeless, mentally impaired people. They are working class who've come on tough times, and believe me it isn't easy for them to ask for a handout. They do it to feed their kids. And beside, since when are our citizens required to live like cave dwellers in some third world country to qualify for help? You try to come off as compassionate for those people in other countries, but maybe you should travel around your own country and really see what conditions are like. Why not help those a little closer to home instead of worrying about other people thousands of miles away who don't really want to enter the 21st century? You really have no clue.

      September 16, 2010 at 9:36 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Stan

    When will Americans wake up to the truth that their country is becoming a third world crap hole. The hyper-capitalisist and PLUTOCRATIC system that governs the country is failing and cannot sustain the population, however the elitist politicians and media moguls that control the country cannot let the people know the truth. This is a failing system that needs to re-examine itself and change to blend in with the modern world and realities before there is a total collapse which will no doubt usher in ANARCHY.

    Also, hollywood is playing their part in the decay by promoting and encouraging these capitalists and corporate bloodsuckers, making people cheer for corporate elites.

    September 16, 2010 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      How is this Hollywood's fault? If you're looking for media to blame at least pick the ones who are doing the real damage. That is to say, the media arm of the Republican party: Fox Terror Channel and wing-nut talk radio.

      Between those two you have 100% of the lies floating around in American political discource. All of them originating from the Republican party.

      September 17, 2010 at 10:31 am | Report abuse |
  7. Justme2

    21K isnt poverty, with medicad , foodstamps, Wic you arent living in poverty, they have a house, tv, couch, poverty is when are you out on the street with no job.

    September 16, 2010 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
    • Adrian

      You are a clown! This family has sold all that they have and are doing everything they can to keep a somewhat normal life for their children. Many have run out on their mortagages and bills, at least this family is attempting to do the right thing.

      September 16, 2010 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
    • Kim

      Have you actually tried to live on $21k a year for a family of four? Have you tried to apply for Medicaid and food stamps at that income? I seriously doubt that you have. I, on the other hand, have applied for Medicaid and food stamps and WIC when I was a single mother of two children in daycare, their dad decided he didn't want to stick around or help out. I made $19760.00 a year or $9.50 an hour at the time, before taxes. (8 years ago). My rent was $450.00 a month(2 bedroom house), car payment was $150, insurance was $75, and daycare was $140 a WEEK. That's about $1200 a month BEFORE utilities, food, diapers, etc. I swallowed my pride and applied for assistance. The only thing that was approved was Medicaid for the kids. I was DENIED food stamps, WIC, TANF, and everything else because.....I made too much money. They could help me if I lost my job but as it was, I just had to make it work.
      Until you've been there...until you've LIVED it....don't judge. Because it's a hell of a lot harder than you think.

      September 16, 2010 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Bunnie

      Obviously you've never applied for any of these programs because if you had, you'd know it takes a lot less than $21K to qualify. My husband and I were both laid off within 3 months of our son's birth and we weren't eligible for jack except UI benefits because guess what? Two unemployed people receiving benefits make too much money for WIC, Medicaid and so on.

      September 16, 2010 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
    • Howie2g

      Have you ever heard of the "Working Poor"?

      I've worked with organizations that house people and families in their shelters and all had jobs, but were underpaid, single parents, sick; but all were working.

      Companies, especially today with jobs being a commodity, low ball the wages of new employees because they can. It's definitely a employers market, not an employees.

      September 16, 2010 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
    • TheFactIs

      In our 4 member household we bring in well over 100k. Should be plenty based on the info presented here. However, when the mortgage bubble burst, our mortgage doubled to over 3600/month. We lost our jobs, had to live on credit. Citi group jacked our rate to 30% claiming we would be helping them lend to others. We are paying $600/month in interest alone. We sold our cars, but can't sell our home, because we are now $200k upside down. We can't walk either, because we make too much money. We are not poor, but we struggle to put food on the table and live paycheck to paycheck. It takes a toll on your patience, everyone gripes, it's very stressful. It feels like your air supply is slowly being closed off. Too boot we owe taxes in the 28% bracket and are behind a year.

      This is my situation and I feel blessed just to have a pillow under my head at night. I can't imagine 21k in my wildest dreams. It has to be mindnumbingly tough. Btw, I live in CA.

      September 16, 2010 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
    • moved

      Instead of continuing down the spiral of poverty, I moved my family (4 of us) from Washington DC to Canada. We now are much better off and accept no gov't subsidies.

      September 17, 2010 at 1:55 am | Report abuse |
    • militarymama

      What planet do you live on? 21K BEFORE TAXES, even with the Medicaid and Foodstamps, is not a lot. Medicaid, pays your medical bills, but when the jobs are 20 miles away from where you live and you don't have a car, it won't pay for your transportation. Additionally Medicaid is very limited in what they will cover. Foodstamps do help put food on the table, but not toilet paper, tootpaste, dish soap, laundry soap, trash bags, shampoo, body soap. Chilldren even in public school still need supplies. Public education isn't completely free. And it is hard for many people to set aside their pride and apply for any form of public assistance. Even though they may make less than the poverty level, that doesn't guarantee that they will get accepted, owning a home, even if you are upside down in your mortgage, will often disqualilfy a family for almost everything. For this family I pray that things will get better for you.

      September 17, 2010 at 7:46 am | Report abuse |
  8. Samantha Lathrop

    I really would like to help this family out, I understand they are embarrassed but my church is looking for families like this to help and I think if we can help one family out the media attention on their situation may grow and change the sad facts of what the poverty line is and how it really hurts people that need the government's resources the most! Please contact me via e-mail if they would allow us to help!

    September 16, 2010 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
    • Miss M

      God Bless you ad your church Samatha !! Our church is busy sending money to foriegn countries to spread the world on Jesus. I believe that they should have taken some of that money and helped a needy family/person right here in our community.

      September 16, 2010 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |

    Is time people stop blaming the government and take responsibility for thier actions. The woman who is too ashame to use her fool name should have thought of being ashame for buying a home she could not afford by going way over her head. Is

    September 16, 2010 at 11:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      And you know she bought too much house for her income because? Maybe she and her husband had much better jobs at that point and have since been laid off. Even an affordable home because unaffordable if you lose your job. Of course, you didn't think about that because you are too interested in moralizing and blaming people to actually use your head for anything other than a hatrack.

      September 16, 2010 at 11:10 am | Report abuse |
    • Soljagurl

      Robert I hope and pray you dont EVER find yourself in the poor house. When you do buy that house, you can afford it in the begining. Then pay decreases and bills go up. Be understanding to the economy and people who suffer from downsizing etc...

      September 16, 2010 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
    • cm

      Robert get a life, start by having a women in your life.

      September 16, 2010 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Joan

      Did you not listen? Both adults lost their jobs. They got rid of everything and they have an autistic child. You cannot qualify for food stamps in the state of Virginia if you own a car valued over 4000.00 dollars. People like you need to take a turn in the unemployment line, otherwise you would never learn. I guess, running through their 401K, selling their cars, etc. aren't good enough? I'm sorry, when I collected unemployment I had a salary of 55K. I received a check for 325 a week (taxable). It wouldn't of covered my mortage, if I hadn't spent a dime the entire month, and I am not in over my head, my house is not upside down. One day, you may need some help, may be then you will have some compassion.

      September 16, 2010 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
    • Bunnie

      Get over yourself. The people who bought too much home lost their homes in 2006 and 2007 before the banks came whining to Bush about not having enough money. The people losing their homes now are doing so because they lost their jobs. Maybe when you lose YOUR job you'll have a clue as to what Maria is going through, you insensitive jerk.

      September 16, 2010 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
    • Howie2g

      You're an idiot. The ASSumptions are only worth the first three letters.

      September 16, 2010 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • militarymama

      Did you read the story. Both adults had good jobs, then lost their jobs when the economy went sour. When you buy a house you can afford it, but after a housing bubble bursts, and jobs start moving to other countries, or layoffs happen, things tend to change. What else is there to do when you can't sell the house because you have so much negative equity? This family is commendable for fighting to keep doing what is right, and not trashing the house and keeping their home out of foreclosure and food on their table. Take a look at some of the houses on the market that are listed as foreclosures and even the short sales, quiet a few people were angry at their situation, the bank, or some other contributing factor to their demise, or needed money so badly, that some of the houses have been left in such bad shape, and abandoned. Shame on you for critizing someone for simply being in the same situation as so many other people in this country.

      September 17, 2010 at 7:58 am | Report abuse |
  10. Ateeq

    43,600,000 US Citizen at or below the poverty Line! What a Shame! More than the population of Iraq or Afghanistan. End the war and take care of these our citizens!

    September 16, 2010 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
    • Soljagurl


      September 16, 2010 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
  11. My Voice

    My wife and I since 1997 have never struggled the way we have since fall of 2008. There has been pay cuts, not enough money for mortgage, bills and even groceries. We can not sell anything, we can not refinance, we can not find better jobs and b/c of children and childcare can not afford part time jobs. WE are worse off now than we have ever been. WHO can survive off of 21,000 a year. 80,000 a year combined for myself and family of 4 has become a struggle. The bills keep rising and our pay was cut drastically but atleast we do still have jobs and health benefits.

    September 16, 2010 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
    • Bunnie

      We hear you. We now make less than 1/3 of what we made in 2008 due to 2 job losses. Only my husband was able to find a job and it's 20K less than what he made before. With two kids we're struggling like no one's business and we are not eligible for any other help other than my UI benefits which will end in a few months.

      September 16, 2010 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
    • chitownlady

      EXACTLY! who can survive on $21k as a family. I lost my job 21/2 years ago. try losing $43k a year. I know some of you are saying "oh. poor baby". to HURT! Our daughter had to drop out of college in her junior year! We no longer could afford to pay! She couldn't get loans because, we couldn't co-sign on the loans! As to today....she still has NOT gone back! We at the age of 55 with only 7 years left on out mortgage had to modify it. It added 10 more long years back on to it. That was a very bitter pill to swallow! Still is. I do thank God that our son was able to receive a acadmic scholarship as well as a compter scholarship to go to college!

      No this is NO WAY EASY. Perhaps if our government for years didn't give everything away. STOP giving MY MONEY TO COUNTRIES WHO COULD CARE LESS ABOUT US....They only want our money! WHAT have any of these countries done for us? NOTHING! Its time WASHINGTON WORRIES ABOUT US! we are sinking faster then Joan RIvers face!Perhaps if they didn't REMOVE REGULATIONS that were put into place during the "Great Depression" to AVOID this ever happening. WE WOUDL NOT BE IN THIS MESS TODAY! I blame WASHINGTON! We are in a HUGE mess. I do not see a way out. Washington bigwigs are so darn out of touch with "normal" everyday joe blows its sad. As long as thier little piece of the world is ok WE DO NOT MATTER! Instead of keeping benefits going for people, they cut us off. Wait until November when ALL EXTENDED BENEFITS ARE GONE! How many will then be way way under the poverty level. you are gonna see huge amounts flocking to food stamps. more homes will be foreclosed on. Foreclosers are already at an all time HIGH! and that isn;t gonna get better anytime soon. Hey, Im 55......800 resumes later I am still looking. i cannot compete with younger and cheaper. My god, even health insurance is cheaper on the younger worker. i have paid into Social Security for 35 years.....I WANT IT NOW! I think its time Washington Helps a SISTER or two OUT! WHy are you making the people in 50 and up group SUFFER? And yet you expect our vote......yeah right! The 50 and up group have been the backbone. ANd now, you can'yt toss us a bone. LEAVE US RETIRE! Why must you continue to punish us? I have already lost most of everything. And you want our vote.......Come and walk in our shoes. While you sit and sdtuff your fat faces with steak and taters....THINK OF US WHO CANNOT even eat but 1 aday! i am as angry as hell and I'm tired.WASHINGTON BETTER WAKE UP REAL SOON !

      September 16, 2010 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Amen


      Amen to that. They take our money, and in return, like some of those countries who end in "stan", and several others, continue to sponsor terrorism, here and abroad. What a way to say thanks for sending money and supplies after our country flooded, was hit by a tsunami, struck with an earthquake, nearly wiped off the planet by whatever. Perhaps it is time our country started looking at homeland defense, in the actual homeland.

      September 17, 2010 at 8:25 am | Report abuse |
  12. Soljagurl

    Remember, its actually LESS. Taxes eat us up and thats what pays the GOVERNMENTS salary. Yes I believe it is horrible. AND, You probably make to much to get ANY public assistance. I had 5 in the house as a single mom and made to much for food stamps. ITS SAD!!!

    September 16, 2010 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      How did you become a single mother? Did the childrens' father die or were you ever married to their father?

      September 16, 2010 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
    • checi

      What difference does it make how she became a single mother? You are only looking for some kind of moral judgement and you have no right to.

      September 16, 2010 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • chitownlady

      PAUL your an idiot! the point has NOTHING to do with her being a single mom! THERE are millions of them. your a total idiot!

      September 16, 2010 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Morals

      It does matter how she became a single mother! Women need to quit getting knocked up out of wedlock. There's a reason God's plan is to be married first. Two parents can take care of 4 or 5 children much better than one!

      September 16, 2010 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave Green

      How were people married by "gods plan" before someone invented god?

      September 16, 2010 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      Morals – I completely agree with you! Such wisdom! So, let's go ahead and allow gay couples to adopt. After all, two parents ARE better than one, or none in many cases.

      September 16, 2010 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
  13. crazy

    It was easy to call Bush stupid.
    Now that we have an intlligent liberal in the WH, we are all poor

    September 16, 2010 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
    • biglio

      Yeah because those data from 2009 show Obama did it, right? And the graph that shows that the poor were a lot less in 2000 under clinton? Keep drinking kool aid and electing republicans, that will surely do a lot of good, read the article and wonder how comes that the red states are way the poorest eh? No flashbulb lighting inside your brain? Maybe it's because the red states keep electing politicians that care more about their wealthy friends than the people....this is what republicans will do for you!

      September 16, 2010 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  14. GJ

    Anything under at least $35,000/year for a family of (2) is in poverty I don't care what anyone says. Everything has increased but wages and people are paying more than 80% of their income on their primary residence and transportation to get to work (if they even have a job at all) so for a family of four you nearly have to double the $35,000 annual income to not be in poverty. You need more food, use more utilities, buy more clothes, medical, education, etc!!!! This country is really going down the tubes and it is very sad. But we've just spent billions and billions on aide and war to other countries. Makes me absolutely sick.

    September 16, 2010 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
    • Lisa

      You got it exactly right~!

      September 16, 2010 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      I don't disagree that families need more money to live but the bigger problem is materialism. We have to have everything and have it now. Why does every person in a family have to have their own phone? TV? Bedroom? What about eating out 3,4,5, days a week? Why can't we get back to a simpler life? Everyone is trying to keep up with the Jones'. We have so much stuff, most of which we don't need. Shelter, food, utilities, healthcare, and transportation back and forth to work, that's what we need. After that it's mostly crap. We need to reexamine how we live, individually and collectively, if we are going to get through this mess. And lastly, on the political side, we need to stop voting in the same dunderheads year after year and expecting them to do something different, they won't.

      September 16, 2010 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
  15. bailoutsos

    All you poor people, don't expect any help from Wall Street even after your tax money saved them.

    September 16, 2010 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      Poor people don't pay taxes...

      September 16, 2010 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
    • bailoutsos

      :::Rob Poor people don't pay taxes... @@@ What planet are you from?

      September 16, 2010 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
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