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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Post by:
Filed under: Economy
soundoff (616 Responses)
  1. john

    First off to Lisa. Obama didn't start this crap your buddy bush did. Look at the facts and to ROBERT if ya look at the pic its probley a rental and if they did buy the house notice the couch is close to 2 feet from the TV which means the house probley cost less than the "BMW" or equivilant that u drive. And there are plenty of couches that people can pick up off the street on garbage day and yes it does happen! Many people throw away there good working 27 inch tv when the go out and buy that 52" big screen plasma HD for there kid who has nothing better to do than play call of duty on with the XBOX 360 that you gave hime for his birthday.

    September 16, 2010 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom, Long Beach, California

      wrong John, Obama made it worse....he's done in 2012 though

      September 16, 2010 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      ***Obama didn't start this crap your buddy bush did.***

      Um, actually no, you're wrong. Bushed tried to stop it but was stopped by Democrats in congress.

      In 2003 Bush tried to increase oversight of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (whose crappy mortgages gave rise to this mess). Barney Frank, Chris Dodd and others insisted there was no problem.

      See: query DOT nytimes DOT com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9E06E3D6123BF932A2575AC0A9659C8B63&scp=1&sq=&st=nyt

      Replace the DOTs with dots.

      September 16, 2010 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • rabidantirepublican

      Uh, wrong Tom. All indicators show the economy improving, albeit slowly.

      September 16, 2010 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Linda

    Chris... you actually think $21K is not poor? Where I live, you could not get rent a 2 bedroom apartment ... average rent for a small 2 bedroom is $1,500. So yes, for a family $21k is poor.

    September 16, 2010 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Charles

    I'd say that anyone that has the technical prowess to make a post on a CNN news topic, they have the skillsets needed to get out and make a change for themselves. I'm all for "helping people out", but I'm also going to throw this out there: I'm tired of hearing "omg.... everything is so horrible,... please help me." For example, no offense to the people in Louisiana, but anyone that lives in the Gulf after Katrina is just asking for punishment. Hell,.... I'd say the same thing about someone living on the coast in Florida. When the next hurricane comes (a big one),... everyone will line up for handouts. How about this for an idea-----–> MOVE? Go read US News & World Report about the "10 Most Growing Cities" – Pack your stuff and MOVE. Why do people sit around? Greatest quote of all time: "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." – Albert Einstein. At least Mexican illegal immigrants are MOVING to try and better their conditions. Everyone in the USA likes to sit around, complain and wait for a handout.

    September 16, 2010 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom, Long Beach, California

      Charles, climb out from the rock your hiding under....illegal aliens are the ones taking all the hand outs and demanding their rights(which thye have none)....they are the scourge that soured the economy. i agree they are trying to better their situation and we let them do it...but that has to end now or we face huge issues downstream

      September 16, 2010 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Dona

    I do not know how they have come up with that poverty line $21K for a family of 4 .. that is ridiculous! I think 40K should be the poverty line and that is for a Single not a family – this is America we are suppose to have a higher standard of living.

    September 16, 2010 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
  5. MikeA

    Thank You Wall Street and the big banks and GW Bush and Darth Cheney (all the fat cats) who have destroyed this country and brought millions to the edge of poverty. Not people like Dick Fuld, etc, who continue on their Merry Way stealing and scheming and robbing the unaware. BTW, have ANY of those Fat Cats on Wall Street been held accountable for the devestation they brought to so many? The other day I went to re-new a CD at the bank. The interest rate was .70%. Meanwhile, I picked up a flyer which, the bank said, I could get a boat or car loan for 9%. These banks have a great game going. Borrow money off the Fed a around 1%, lend it out and 9% (even at 4.5% mortgage ain't bad....for them anyway) and screw those who have saved. Then comes the big lie. WE ARE GOING TO PAY FOR THESE LOW-LIFE BANKERS AND WALL STREET CROOKS VIA TAXES. That means we get it both ends.

    September 16, 2010 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom, Long Beach, California

      try again Mike guess is you voted for CHANGE and you got it....2012 will fix that though.....don't know who the answer is but it is not your references or the idiots in Washington now.....

      September 16, 2010 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      @MikeA, who blames Bush, Cheney, et al:

      Um, actually no, you're wrong. Bushed tried to stop it but was stopped by Democrats in congress.

      In 2003 Bush tried to increase oversight of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (whose crappy mortgages gave rise to this mess). Barney Frank, Chris Dodd and others insisted there was no problem.

      See: query DOT nytimes DOT com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9E06E3D6123BF932A2575AC0A9659C8B63&scp=1&sq=&st=nyt

      Replace the DOTs with dots.

      September 16, 2010 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan Beach

      News from the past:Under Bush-Cheney we experienced the weakest post-recession job creation cycle since the Great Depression, record deficits, record household debt, a record bankruptcy rate and a substantial increase in poverty. We have gone from being the nation with the biggest budget surplus in history to becoming the nation with the largest deficit in history.(Tea Bags don’t like to be reminded of this….it of course they say another socialist lie)

      September 16, 2010 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • rabidantirepublican

      Tom, you're not going to change squat in 2012 if all you have to offer is Sarah Palin or Newt Gingrich.

      September 16, 2010 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
  6. kay

    I am sorry to here what happen to u..
    I am a single mom with 4kids at home one has autism sever
    We had a nice home till we found out the home had black
    Mold we lost everything because of it.
    We now live in a motel and my only income is Disibility.
    and their is not help
    or us the state has no funds

    September 16, 2010 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
  7. kay

    To ad to my story the state has no fund their need to be something
    Their to help these family's especially when we have
    Disabled. Children. These are sad story's and my heart
    goes out to all these family's who are in these trouble time.

    September 16, 2010 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Dan Beach

    Reason economy is still stagnate WAR it is WAR wake up look at it in it's totality...from corruption-finical aid-blackwater type contracts ad nausem

    September 16, 2010 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
  9. wustorm98

    This is so sad. Unfortunately many Americans are going through this due to the economy. Hopefully, this economy will take a turn for the better sooner than later.

    September 16, 2010 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
  10. MJB

    Heres the answer if you are 65 and older.Be an immigrant. You apply for SSI and Medicaid and will get more than a woman who worked from 1944 until 2004. She only gets$791/ month, there is a catch 22 since she was born in 1924.So, our gov provides a single refugee monthly 1,890. Another $580 for social assistance for a total of $2,470.So this compares to a single pensioner contributing to the growth and development of america for 40 to 50 years can only rfeceive man of $1,012 in old age pension and guaranteed income supplement. Maybe our pensioners should apply as a refugee.

    September 16, 2010 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Tom, Long Beach, California

    we all loving "CHANGE" now...we are becoming third world as we are so PC we are not taking care of our own but handing out free lunch, medical and other benefits to illegal aliens....WAKE UP AMERICA or the end is near for our great nation

    September 16, 2010 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Henry N.

    Stay strong, Maria. Have hope and always believe in yourself and you will prevail. God bless.

    September 16, 2010 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
  13. annoyed by the ignorance

    I work at a homeless shelter. Those of you who think that individuals in need of services or support live in mansions and drive luxury cars are simply lying to yourselves to make yourselves feel better. There aren't luxury cars in our parking lot and many of our clients sleep in parks or under bridges when the overnight shelters are too full. Poverty is a real problem in this country and $21,000 per year for a family of four is a disgraceful amount of money to even try to live on.

    September 16, 2010 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
  14. MJB

    Forgot, now if your an ILLEGAL immigrant you get lost of monies. PEOPLE! change your thinking and fill out the papers
    for an illegal resident. Have 8 kids, WOW! lots there. For just sitting around. Yeah! C'mon get that check and multiple other services that we US American cannot get. worked 50yrs + and cannot compete with all they get for doing nothing. THIS CRAP HAS GOT TO STOP AND SOON. We are becoming a 3rd world country and tired of it all. We need to change our currant system of government. No more freebies to ILLEGALS.

    September 16, 2010 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jody

    I really felt bad ready a lot of these posts but in a weird sort of way it almost made me feel better. They made me feel like I am not not alone. I, like so many others in this country, am a struggling single mother trying to make ends meet. I have to say I am lucky and have it slightly better than a lot of people and still have trouble sleeping at night or wake up with a stomach ache trying to figure out how I am going to buy groceries or keep my electricity on. I don't have an upside down loan on a home or vehicle, I am fortunate enough to have a full time job paying a decent wage plus two other part time jobs to help supplement my income. I could still use more money to be where I need to be comfortably. I have a worthless ex husband who owes me $68,000 in back child support and it is climbing as he has recently been charged with yet another crime and is not currently paying child support. But the state never really did much to do anything about it and now they can't pursue him because of the criminal case pending against him. I have a 16 year old daughter who cannot find a little part time job herself because adults are taking the jobs that 10 years ago would have been abudant for our teens getting their firs time jobs! It is getting worse and worse and will continue to get worse before it gets better. Until some of these criminalistic credit card companies and mortgage companies actually get the book thrown at them for once will we see a significant change. But as long as they keep getting bailed out nothing will change. One of the best things someone could do is up and move out of the "land of milk and honey" and move to Europe where they actually value their citizens! God bless all of the people out their struggling to feed their families. My heart goes out to you and don't give up. Hang in there! Do not leave any stone unturned!

    September 16, 2010 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
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