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Old 06-27-2012, 01:35 PM   #21
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I read the linked article, particularly about the woman in the photo. It is a sad story. For people who do not spend the time to read, here's my summary.

Adkins had a plant nursery, which grossed $300K/yr prior to the recession. When the sales plummeted, she did not net enough to pay for the mortgage of the land her business was on. She lost that, and then when she tried to raise money from the sales of her home, the price was so low she could clear only $4K. Her car was the only thing valuable that she had left.

The article said that she has applied for several jobs, but was repeatedly turned down when she admitted in the interviews that she lived in her car. She has become an "untouchable"!

She has found some part-time work from people who knew her and were more sympathetic, but so far the income is so meager that she cannot climb out of homelessness.
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Old 06-27-2012, 01:52 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by NW-Bound View Post
I read the linked article, particularly about the woman in the photo. It is a sad story. For people who do not spend the time to read, here's my summary.

Adkins had a plant nursery, which grossed $300K/yr prior to the recession. When the sales plummeted, she did not net enough to pay for the mortgage of the land her business was on. She lost that, and then when she tried to raise money from the sales of her home, the price was so low she could clear only $4K. Her car was the only thing valuable that she had left.

The article said that she has applied for several jobs, but was repeatedly turned down when she admitted in the interviews that she lived in her car. She has become an "untouchable"!

She has found some part-time work from people who knew her and were more sympathetic, but so far the income is so meager that she cannot climb out of homelessness.
Thanks for the summary. Very helpful for those that don't care to open unexplained links...
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Old 06-27-2012, 01:58 PM   #23
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There must be people who live in an RV only with no permanent residence. How do they register their vehicle?
FYI:

From following blogs of RV full-timers, I learned that it is possible to register an RV and also to obtain a driver's license in South Dakota with fewer requirements than in other states. There's a county or town in Texas where one can do the same.

Of course these RV'ers are not destitute. They either have at least SS benefits, or are early retirees who live off their stash.

The lowest cost to live in an RV would be in New Mexico, where one can get a state camping permit for less than $300/year. NM is a state with varied elevation, so one can drive up/down the mountains to follow the season. That takes care of heating and cooling that would be required.

Of course one would still need a few hundreds a month for food and fuel. And there is vehicle maintenance and insurance, etc... Cheap living as it is, it is not for people who are destitute, as I figure these state campgrounds are in the boondocks where there is no chance of getting a part-time job.
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Old 06-27-2012, 02:22 PM   #24
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Adkins had a plant nursery, which grossed $300K/yr prior to the recession. When the sales plummeted, she did not net enough to pay for the mortgage of the land her business was on. She lost that, and then when she tried to raise money from the sales of her home, the price was so low she could clear only $4K. Her car was the only thing valuable that she had left.
So, from this I gather that despite appearances, her net worth was near zero all along; she was never able to sock enough away to cover any business slowdowns or emergencies. Sadly, she's not alone.

"A rising tide lifts all boats. It's not until the tide goes out that you realize who's swimming naked."
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Old 06-27-2012, 02:39 PM   #25
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Monthly payout is about $800 a month...
"In 2010, the average monthly food stamp benefit in Massachusetts was about $240 per household."

http://www.massresources.org/snap-benefits.html
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Old 06-27-2012, 02:47 PM   #26
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So, from this I gather that despite appearances, her net worth was near zero all along; she was never able to sock enough away to cover any business slowdowns or emergencies. Sadly, she's not alone.
Yes, we all know people with a low net worth vs. their income.

This woman owns a business, and even large businesses often have a low book value compared to their sales, leave alone much of a cash stash. Perhaps she could have managed her business better, I don't know.

But thinking about this, we can see why small business owners get so upset about the government bailing out large businesses that "can't fail". The closer one's employment is to the government, the better one's chance of surviving any economy slowdown.
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Old 06-27-2012, 03:23 PM   #27
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"In 2010, the average monthly food stamp benefit in Massachusetts was about $240 per household."

http://www.massresources.org/snap-benefits.html
Of course, but you 'lose' your card once or twice each month (20,000 a month do so) and sell it for $150 each time. It's a cottage industry here.

There are also two cards: 'cash' cards (to get cash) and 'food cards' to get food (and cigs and beer).

There's a difference between the stated benefit and what you can get for it on the open market, espcially when you can get it easily replaced.

Once you get 'in', all sorts of clever 'opportunities' await. It adds up.

I'm speaking from experience.

Meanwhile, here's a fun article from our local curmudgeon Howie Carr (Boston Herald) on the EBT subject. The story is in NH, but the programs are similar.
Firing squad ends clerk’s EBT stand - BostonHerald.com
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Old 06-27-2012, 03:44 PM   #28
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Hopefully, you are not close to being in that rut, as I'm sure you wouldn't be on this site posting if that was the case. Nevertheless, I wish you the best in finding something soon.
I'm not as well off as most on here but, at age 32, I could live off my savings for nearly 10 years if I stay in my paid off condo. If I sell my condo and live in my car I could get by until social security kicks in by living off my savings and giving plasma twice a week. I would probably prefer to work another 20 years and keep my condo but I may not have a choice.
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Old 06-27-2012, 04:05 PM   #29
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Our budget for groceries for 3 is $326 (excluding one night out a week) and we never spend it all. I would think most of the board does better. Probably not CA prices here, but it seems like food stamps would cover us handily.
+1 According to Quicken we spend $436 per month on groceries over the last 12 months (for 3 of us). That might be a bit light in that it doesn't include a gallon of milk here and there but I think we could pare that back to $400 a month if we had to.

I find it really hard to differentiate between those who are trying hard and not making progress (like our friend aaronc879) and those who are in a pickle as the cumulative effect of their poor decisions.
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Old 06-27-2012, 04:15 PM   #30
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The article mentions that in order to get a permit to join the Safe Parking program so you can legally park in the church parking lot you need to have a current registration. Doesn't getting a registration require prove of residence in the state in which you want the registration. After you lose your home you have less than a year before your registration runs out so what do you do then. There must be people who live in an RV only with no permanent residence. How do they register their vehicle?
You use an old address and have the the local Post Office hold mail for pickup, or forward to General Delivery at a new post office. Works for college students without a permanent address (yeah, homeless, but in denial...).
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Old 06-27-2012, 04:31 PM   #31
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And then there are the grocery stores that throw away milk, meat, bread and produce. Anything that is a little bruised or expired.

A wise gentleman in our community works with a local charity kitchen and food bank and collects all the above items from two local grocery stores. We then distribute the food to the families that "make too much, yet not enough" we are literally the ones feeding these people, keeping them from living on subpar nutrition. Just today (and I'm not kidding) we received over $1,000.00 worth of meat. Chicken, ground chuck, roasts, veal...even a package of ground buffalo.

It's a crying shame places like Meijer throw away perfectly good food when so many are hungry.

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Old 06-27-2012, 06:05 PM   #32
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Same as another interviewee for the quoted article, Adkins had never applied for public assistance in her life. Taking that at face value, we see that these people were not life-long welfare recipients. I surely hope that they will not become one.

I re-read the article to check that Adkins did make efforts to find a job, any job. She said she would have had a better chance if she weren't living in her car. Following is an excerpt.

She pauses, then says, "It's weird. When people find out I'm homeless, it changes how they feel about me. I get declined for jobs. As soon as they learn I live in a van, I'm a thief."

Responding to a job listing online, she had spoken with a woman who wanted to exchange pet care for rent on a trailer she owned. But during the interview, the woman asked where she lived, and Adkins could only evade the question for so long.

"What?" the woman responded. "How old are you? And you have no money?" Adkins tried to caution her against judging homeless people, but she knows that as soon as she has to make that kind of appeal, she's already lost.

Another time, she got an interview for a job as a dog walker. The potential employer was a young woman in her twenties, and Adkins thought she'd be open-minded, so she didn't hide her situation. The woman's face changed instantly. Adkins looked at her and took hold of her hand and gave it a squeeze. "It doesn't change who I am," she told the woman. "I'm still the same person. I'm honest, I've always worked hard and I'll work hard for you." But the woman had already withdrawn, and the next day she reposted the ad.

Earlier posters had raised questions about how Adkins ended up in Santa Barbara. The article said that she grew up there, and after camping out in AZ for a short time after the loss of her home, went back to CA hoping to connect with people she knew or grew up with. The erratic part-time work, a few hours here and there, was with a plant nursery where she worked as a teenager (she is 56 now!).

Something came to my mind. Why was there no friend or relative who could "lend" her an address, so that she could get a job? Due to recent threads, one on whether to help a relative and another on American culture, I wonder if our society now has such a closed heart, that we will not give the down-and-out another chance, not even to our friends and relatives. Does this come with individualism, something I myself value?

Or is there something more about Adkins' situation that we don't know about? I realize that by simply asking a question to keep probing the possibility that "there must be some reasons why she did not get help", I am already among the people who are closing their heart.

The article did make a comparison to the New Orleans flood a few years back. FEMA poured a lot of money in to help the evacuees. Thinking about this, I realized that we did not back then say that these New Orleanders should get no help, because they should know to prepare to evacuate themselves, given plenty of storm warnings. I know, I know, some critics did make the same judgement back then, but as the whole, the nation did not.

We need job creation and jobs must come from the private sector. But if no one wants to hire people who live in cars, these "untouchables" are doomed. Note that Adkins still sleeps in her van, and not yet truly homeless. It can still get worse for her.
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Old 06-27-2012, 06:33 PM   #33
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I didn't read the article, and do not know if the woman is deserving or a freeloader. I do know that we all hold prejudice of some kind in our hearts. That doesn't mean we have to ignore theft of food cards, but it also does not mean we need to view every story as a left-wing conspiracy. We have major problems, and without some compassion in our hearts we are doomed to increasing amounts of misery.
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Old 06-27-2012, 08:26 PM   #34
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I could live on food stamps if I had:
1. A stove.
2. A source for bulk foods such as oatmeal, beans, rice, etc.
3. A refrigerator to store leftovers, such as beans that I cooked the day before.
4. A wild source of greens, such as dandelions, etc. - or better yet, a fruit or nut tree.

I don't think that most people who are living in their cars have these items. .
+1

Some years ago I casually mentioned to some co-workers that I thought I could eat on $1/day. (okay, quite a few years ago)

After I said that, I started looking at cheap foods at the grocery store to see if I could back it up. I decided the key would be buy bulk flour, beans, oatmeal, etc. and cook at home. (I discovered that Gold Medal Better-for-Bread flour listed more protein on the label than their regular flour.) I realized that affording the home was a bigger challenge than affording the food. It would be a lot harder if I were living in a car.
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Old 06-27-2012, 08:37 PM   #35
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Rita's post reminded me of a strange going's on in a community where we lived prior to our last move. The major top line grocery chain in this area (Publix) was tossing out dated food including meat. This Publix was in a strip mall which also included an oriental food joint. Guess where the oriental joint was getting some of their meat. Out of the Publix dumpster.

As a side note to this "outdated food" problem, is it possible to pass this food on to food kitchens? By outdated, I'm thinking "sell by" date that is marked on packages. I just bought some "sell bys" today. Lean ground beef and some pork chops for many dollars off the original price. I still try to save where I can. I just can't see throwing food away. There has to be an answer to this.
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Old 06-27-2012, 08:39 PM   #36
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I've got a relative who is a (very poorly paid) lawyer. He works in a tiny firm that used to specialize in mortgage problems, but that morphed into primarily bankruptcies. He has a white board with a list of names and dates. The dates are sheriff's sales, and he needs to file the bankruptcy before the sale so the people can stay in their homes.

I believe that in his state, you don't lose your home or your car in bankruptcy. This lady may have done better sitting down with a lawyer. (But that doesn't mean her situation isn't extremely tough.)
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Old 06-28-2012, 12:14 AM   #37
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Same as another interviewee for the quoted article, Adkins had never applied for public assistance in her life. Taking that at face value, we see that these people were not life-long welfare recipients. I surely hope that they will not become one.

I re-read the article to check that Adkins did make efforts to find a job, any job. She said she would have had a better chance if she weren't living in her car. Following is an excerpt.
She pauses, then says, "It's weird. When people find out I'm homeless, it changes how they feel about me. I get declined for jobs. As soon as they learn I live in a van, I'm a thief."

Responding to a job listing online, she had spoken with a woman who wanted to exchange pet care for rent on a trailer she owned. But during the interview, the woman asked where she lived, and Adkins could only evade the question for so long.

"What?" the woman responded. "How old are you? And you have no money?" Adkins tried to caution her against judging homeless people, but she knows that as soon as she has to make that kind of appeal, she's already lost.

Another time, she got an interview for a job as a dog walker. The potential employer was a young woman in her twenties, and Adkins thought she'd be open-minded, so she didn't hide her situation. The woman's face changed instantly. Adkins looked at her and took hold of her hand and gave it a squeeze. "It doesn't change who I am," she told the woman. "I'm still the same person. I'm honest, I've always worked hard and I'll work hard for you." But the woman had already withdrawn, and the next day she reposted the ad.
Earlier posters had raised questions about how Adkins ended up in Santa Barbara. The article said that she grew up there, and after camping out in AZ for a short time after the loss of her home, went back to CA hoping to connect with people she knew or grew up with. The erratic part-time work, a few hours here and there, was with a plant nursery where she worked as a teenager (she is 56 now!).

Something came to my mind. Why was there no friend or relative who could "lend" her an address, so that she could get a job? Due to recent threads, one on whether to help a relative and another on American culture, I wonder if our society now has such a closed heart, that we will not give the down-and-out another chance, not even to our friends and relatives. Does this come with individualism, something I myself value?

Or is there something more about Adkins' situation that we don't know about? I realize that by simply asking a question to keep probing the possibility that "there must be some reasons why she did not get help", I am already among the people who are closing their heart.

The article did make a comparison to the New Orleans flood a few years back. FEMA poured a lot of money in to help the evacuees. Thinking about this, I realized that we did not back then say that these New Orleanders should get no help, because they should know to prepare to evacuate themselves, given plenty of storm warnings. I know, I know, some critics did make the same judgement back then, but as the whole, the nation did not.

We need job creation and jobs must come from the private sector. But if no one wants to hire people who live in cars, these "untouchables" are doomed. Note that Adkins still sleeps in her van, and not yet truly homeless. It can still get worse for her.
I read your commentary with great interest. I am thinking of many of the same things. I wonder if she somehow alienated her friends - the reason she moved to Santa Barbara in the first place for. You mention individualism (which I also value). I wonder if individualism has made some of us a bit extreme - somewhat callous....

Or is it because we are all so fercely independent that we expect the same thing from others? (I have some friends who would rather be homeless than asking for help from their children.)

I wonder what made those people who were ready to hire her change their minds about hiring her when they found out she was homeless? She would steal? She is nuts? Her homelessness would rub off on them?
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Old 06-28-2012, 12:30 AM   #38
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I'm not as well off as most on here but, at age 32, I could live off my savings for nearly 10 years if I stay in my paid off condo. If I sell my condo and live in my car I could get by until social security kicks in by living off my savings and giving plasma twice a week. I would probably prefer to work another 20 years and keep my condo but I may not have a choice.
I remember you to be a great saver (an old thread in which we talked about food budgets, etc), so it's great you have a huge cushion to weather the storm - well prepared, unlike most.

I hope the storm will pass soon.
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Old 06-28-2012, 05:54 AM   #39
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Originally Posted by JOHNNIE36
Rita's post reminded me of a strange going's on in a community where we lived prior to our last move. The major top line grocery chain in this area (Publix) was tossing out dated food including meat. This Publix was in a strip mall which also included an oriental food joint. Guess where the oriental joint was getting some of their meat. Out of the Publix dumpster.

As a side note to this "outdated food" problem, is it possible to pass this food on to food kitchens? By outdated, I'm thinking "sell by" date that is marked on packages. I just bought some "sell bys" today. Lean ground beef and some pork chops for many dollars off the original price. I still try to save where I can. I just can't see throwing food away. There has to be an answer to this.
The two local stores that donate outdated food to the soup kitchen and our church are Krogers and Anderson's. The Meijer's just throws it in their compactor. We have provided letters and verification of non-profit standing, but they (Meijer's) still tosses the food. Such a waste. Just about everything we get is at its exp. date. Kroger is good to freeze the meat before sending it our way.

The man who picks the food up just told me yesterday a letter came from Kroger's corporate office to send the unsold food to the landfill. We'll see if the local store complies. The people we give this food to are not the people who can walk into their store and make a purchase. Panera Bread has a regular schedule of charitable organizations they donate the day's end bread to.

To get this food it just takes someone willing to do the paperwork, legwork and connection with a soup kitchen or other charitable food distribution network. I am always amazed at what is brought to us!
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Old 06-28-2012, 08:29 AM   #40
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If the announcement "I'm homeless" causes instant rejection when applying for new jobs, it would seem a simple answer of "Oh, I am new to the area and looking for a place to live" might work.
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