Visiting the poorest of the poor
The Ingersoll and Whitman public housing projects in Brooklyn, NY make up one of the poorest communities in the United States.
September 13th, 2012
06:00 AM ET

Visiting the poorest of the poor

By Steve Kastenbaum, CNN

(CNN) – One in seven Americans is living at or below the poverty line.

A report released by the Census bureau on Wednesday showed that the poverty rate in 2011 was 15 percent – unchanged from the previous year.

The number of people living in poverty in the US was 46.2 million.

As one of the poorest census tracts in America, the Ingersoll/Whitman Houses in the Fort Greene section of Brooklyn, NY gives those numbers a wrenching face.

The average salary for a family of three there is $9001, less than half of the official poverty line for a family of three in the United States today.

Damark Mitchell has lived here his entire life.

He looks at the gleaming new office towers in nearby downtown Brooklyn and wonders why things haven’t improved at this public housing project.

[1:34] “You put up all these developments; they don’t hire no one for working. Can’t be carpenters, can’t be nothing. And I’m OSHA certified, certificates out the kazoo… They won’t hire you, won’t hire you.”

The report also shows that income inequality grew last year by 1.5 percent. Aurora Zepeda of the Institute for Children, Poverty and Homelessness pored over the new data.

[2:39] “What I see is that the typical American family is struggling and that wages are not rising and that everything that it costs to keep a family together is going up. And thus, the value of someone’s wages or salary is essentially eroding.”

Advocates like Zepeda say the report shows that the sluggish economy continues to drag down the poor, while programs meant to give them a leg up have been fading away.

Listen to the complete story above and join the conversation below.

soundoff (160 Responses)
  1. kathie

    I wish just once...just once..that all of the politicians would go and visit this area and many other places across the united states to see how the real people are living....instead of fighting with each other, throwing insults, and acting like bullies and immature people. If they would visit ...go into an apartment where a family is struggling with everything, then maybe...just maybe they will finally get it and do something about helping people go forward!

    September 14, 2012 at 2:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Grey

      Wahh? come down from their ivory towers. Demograps and repugnicans are far too busy spending our grandchildrens future, having already spent yours and your childrens, for your childish wishes.

      September 14, 2012 at 7:37 am | Report abuse |
  2. Mary

    Perhaps the reporter should go to some of our American Indian Tribes to see the poorest of the poor. I admit it's shameful that one of the richest countrys in the world have such a wide devide between those who are poor and homeless. Still The Original Occupants of America are living in such deep poverty that it's Shameful. Also, the fact that neither Presidental Candidates have yet to mention "Poor" people of this country tells me that they shall remain so because they have become invisible. We as Americans really have No right to cast the first stone.

    September 13, 2012 at 11:13 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Captain Obvious

    I think the course of action for our nation to be quite obvious (hence my name). TAX THE HELL OUT OF THE RICH AND RAISE WELFARE! And by "TAX THE HELL" I mean "TAX THE HELL!" Yay for income taxes! Yall gotta admit it would help to both redistribute the money, as well as help fund the government to help raise the money for education and things that matter like that.

    September 13, 2012 at 6:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Better idea

      That solves nothing – those with money leave – and it doesnt' really solve the problem. It gives more to some who won't work for it, and takes away from those who do work. There is a reason communism fails and capitalism succeeds. One tries to supress human nature of competition, and the other harnesses it. People who want to raise taxes and and increase welfare are nothing more than the poor sport losers who are upset at the end of the match after backing the wrong team.

      If we want to fix this country, we need to fix education – easier said than done because a large part of it is parental midnset – but in a place like this housing project one thing is for certain – giving them more money for doing nothing won't break any of the cycles of poverty or violence.

      September 13, 2012 at 7:25 pm | Report abuse |
      • wow

        Yeah, giving people in need a leg-up is certainly the worse idea in the world. Wouldn't possibly use it for anything but beer and tattoos, amirite?

        September 13, 2012 at 8:54 pm | Report abuse |
        • Captain Obvious

          I didn't just mean to give all the money to the poor- obviously you are correct- I mean it will redistribute the money to society and to the people who work their butts off for little pay, as well as the middle class which will in turn help the economy as a whole resulting in better living conditions for everyone, including the poor.

          September 13, 2012 at 9:18 pm | Report abuse |
      • Captain Obvious

        I must say as my last remark that there are many people born into poverty that would be very pissed off to hear you say what you said about welfare and the people who support it, I mean if you think like that I truly pity you. Honest to god I pity you.

        September 13, 2012 at 9:25 pm | Report abuse |
        • Captain Oblivious

          You are a communist moron. Please go die in a fire you pinko scum

          September 14, 2012 at 2:33 am | Report abuse |
      • YankeFan1ToInfinity

        Well said! I grew up in the poorest of the poor. I work hard to get out and now make close to six figures. Hard work is what is missing in this generation. Lazy people blaming everyone else instead of looking in the mirror and saying how can I make a difference. Shameful Americans that have forgotten The Dream!

        September 14, 2012 at 12:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Timothy

      Up yours, cap'n. I'm rich and if you try to tax me any more, it's going to be fist city ... punk.

      September 13, 2012 at 9:14 pm | Report abuse |
      • Captain Obvious

        Lol I mainly mean the multi millionairs and the billionairs, if you are one of them I congratulate you.

        September 13, 2012 at 9:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Captain Obvious

      Thank you all for the stimulating conversation, I find it fascinating from a sociology point of view the different opinions of all the people who are on this chat thread. (P.S. Sociology isn't nearly as boring as some people make it out to be, just saying)

      September 13, 2012 at 9:28 pm | Report abuse |
      • Captain Oblivious

        Seriously you are a useless piece of scum. Add some value. Take a gun, put it up to your face and shoot your head off. You're an embarrassment to Americans. DIAF

        September 14, 2012 at 2:36 am | Report abuse |
    • James

      Captain idiot more like it. if you tax the hell out of the rich do your actually believe in your little brain it would somehow trickle down to the trailer trash lever? No way buddy, people like you and these cry babies living off our tax money for life deserve nothing; period. Lives in a project all their lives???? what else can you do for these people on already streched budgets? Oh, you could pull some cash out of your own pocket and hand it to these people. They are just going to buy a dime bag anyways.

      September 14, 2012 at 3:00 am | Report abuse |
  4. h

    redistribute the wealth dang it

    September 13, 2012 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
  5. f-the-rich

    The poor should eat the rich. Then we would solve two problems at the same time.

    September 13, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jon

      The guy has lived there his entire life? Imguess he isn't motivated, with all the programs out there funded by the government, to better himself.

      September 13, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
      • Choosing Wisdom

        Please clarify what programs you are referring to. More than likely Mr. Mitchell will reading this article and any information on assistance based on your level of expertise will be very helpful. Surely the social workers working with him and the community must be missing something that you have inside information on.

        Or, we can just euthanize the poor and resolve the issue.


        September 13, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
        • DREAM15X

          Thank you for clarifying something to Jon that he seems absolutely ignorant on!

          September 13, 2012 at 7:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Captain Obvious

      That just made my day 🙂

      September 13, 2012 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse |
      • Captain Obvious

        I enjoy reading things that are simply DRIPPING with sarcasm- it amuses me.

        September 13, 2012 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
      • f-the-rich

        I'm glad someone appreciated my humor. We all know there aren't enough rich to actually feed the poor.

        September 14, 2012 at 4:05 am | Report abuse |
  6. Larry

    N.Y is the most expensive city in the U.S.A. to live in – correct? Why/How can this poverty stricken man live his entire life in the most expensive city in this country.??? If he is so downtrodden – Maybe he should live in a less expensive city in which to live....

    September 13, 2012 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Melissa

      You are a moron. How do you expect this man to save up money to move to another city/state? He gets 450 dollars a month for a family of three. And he was born into this life, he didn't chose to live there. Learn to see past your ignorance please.

      September 13, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
      • Jon

        You are the moron, and life long enabling doesn't work.

        September 13, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
        • Choosing Wisdom

          Enabling? Assiting people is enabling. Please do your research before providing baseless opinions.

          The antipathy and down right ignorance that people have towards the poor is so alarming. But, I read in a book recently that 1 out of 25 people is a sociopath. Maybe that explains the antipathy.

          September 13, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
        • Choosing Wisdom

          The book is called "The Sociopath Next Door" by Martha Stout, PhD

          September 13, 2012 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
        • Better idea

          CHoosing wisdom – what else would you call it? It's enabling if you give a man money every week for doing nothing and for literally not improving his position in life. You say "how can he move?" Where there is a will there is almost always a way. I know a guy I work with who came to this country with $20 in his pocket – now he has an engineering degree, a home and a family. He came here to escape economic persecution tied to his ethnic make up in India. If he can find a way to travel 15,000 miles to make a new life, this guy can travel 100 miles to CT or NJ if NYC is so bad.

          September 13, 2012 at 7:32 pm | Report abuse |
      • Larry

        I guess I'm a rotten guy..but I don't remember adopting this fellow or his family...I don't think i shoud have to pay for him to live in New York. Maybe he could get more 'bang for the buc'k in...Alabama? It seems he has made several choices in his life and one choice has been to keep the status quo... P.S. Name calling isn't very nice!

        September 13, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
        • Choosing Wisdom

          I suppose taxes should pay for uprooting his family to move to ALabama, or are you willing to make a charitable donation in order to do so. Socially speaking, peopel tend to reside in areas familiar to them and close to family if they have them.

          Or, maybe we can move the poor away from NYC to remove the blight.

          September 13, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
        • Better idea

          We aren't responsible for uprooting him to Alabama, but we also shouldn't be responsible for keeping in NYC. Each person is responsible for their own future. If we coddle failure and work harder and harder to punish sucess we'll be a nation of losers. It's simple logic that I'm sure someone will try to argue against by calling me mean or cold hearted without actually refuting my assertion.

          September 13, 2012 at 7:35 pm | Report abuse |
        • Cuervo Jones

          instead of burning time getting "certificates" that are fairly worthless to anyone without some work experience too, these folks should be counseled to get a degree. 4.7 % unemployed in that demo. plus they have loans available for all really. but please get a science or math degree.

          September 13, 2012 at 9:42 pm | Report abuse |
      • James

        Shouldn't be allowed to have children in e first place. Bet he is not even married, and he is very dark in color.

        September 14, 2012 at 3:04 am | Report abuse |
  7. New guy

    Lastly: who has a solution based off of structural change? Or are we just going to take slogan-esque pot shots at each other till next week? I have seen only one solution here and the premise was to put more money in the hands of the poor so they can "buy things". is that how it works? Thats the solution? No mention of STRUCTURAL change so that people can DO SOMETHING for the money they hope to buy things with. People say more education like they say let them eat cake lol! So many opnions but not one good idea despite all these words. let me ask some of you something: does posting here on CNN make you feel good? To put other people down and win some sort of... moral victory over people whose mind you cant change? Who here is actually doing somehting about the causes they support? Or is posting here your way of making things better for the world?

    Challenge: find a way to make free education that adresses the nation's needs AND.... specifically targets the poor. lets see who really gives a rat's booty

    September 13, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Better idea

      If we're allowed to beat the **** out of parents that let their children go truant and hang by the neck the drug dealers and gangs that hang out by the playgrounds to recruit runners, then yes, I have solutions. Education starts at home and doesn't get leveled by affirmative action at the college level. The problem is the parents – they simple don't care. OOOOH it just came to me – link the ammount of welfare in households with children to grades and scores on aptitude tests. Maybe this would align parents and children into a common cause.

      September 13, 2012 at 7:39 pm | Report abuse |
      • wow

        When you say welfare, you need to specify exactly what you're talking about. A monetary type of welfare like TANF wouldn't apply to a family making this much, no matter what urban inflation is with this scenario. Monetary welfare is only applicable in a very few extreme cases and children usually must be involved. With TANF you have to be a family in a major crisis. And it's such a meager amount that my electricity bill is more expensive than what families receive in my state.

        September 13, 2012 at 9:21 pm | Report abuse |
  8. New guy

    Lets talk military here. For the vast majority of servicemembers the playing field in entirely equal. Pay, housing, job assigments.... We will never get rich working for uncle sam (ask the poverty stricken massess claoring for a handout right?) but its passing fair considering age, experience, education and benefits. So how does a young servicemember end up under the poverty line? Remember: all things WERE equal. Some make "bad" decisions or to be kind "tough calls". For example, if you have no kids its impossible to to go wrog in the military. But if you marry someone with 2 kids..... and you have one from a previous marriage...... then you may be in a hurt locker for sure. but that was that servicemember's call. Right or wrong thier call. NO ONE is responsible for that. Except the servicemember. Is the solution to pay military memeber more? Why? They may take on two mouths to feed? Is that how this works? Here was my pay as a Sgt working as a recruiter in Mass: Base Pay $2000. Housing $1600. Special pay: $375 Food: $330 Other: $50 to $75. I was 25 years old with no college education. Who feels sorry for me lol? Now imagine I took on 3 mouths to feed and care for. Anyone care to shed a tear?

    September 13, 2012 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
  9. New guy

    I am reading thru these posts and what i find interesting is that assumptions can be made about the "rich" (hard to define really; in my eyes its someone who can buy lots of needless crap and still put money in the bank) but not about the poor. Which assumptions are more valid? For those angry about the assumptions made about the poor, why not attack the assumptions made about the rich in these very posts? You know where I am going with this: perception is reality. Perhaps you guys are being willfully blind to the things other people see. No argument is ever truly equal. But peing partial like that reduces your credibility and this your ability to change people's perception (reality)

    September 13, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • michael

      Hey Newguy,
      your wise words have help me see the light. I wan to thank you from the bottom of my heart. I run a non-profit organization that specifically targets people of poverty in which we provide free classes for job-skill training. Since your the proactive type, I was willing if you would be willing to donate to our charity?

      September 13, 2012 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
      • New guy


        No thank you. I am engaged in my own locality. Good on you for making a difference.

        September 13, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
      • DREAM15X

        Nice try Michael, but apparently New Guy is absolutely oblivious to reality and the hardships other people face are just that: hardships. I work with several groups such as the one you are affiliated with.

        September 13, 2012 at 7:26 pm | Report abuse |
        • New guy

          Not oblivious. Been there. Done that. Having said that we need structural change. Not handouts. What I see here are a bunch of people trading barbs and not ideas. Thats what I see coming from really nice people all over these posts and on FB. its more about "being right" or "winning the argument". In all honesty its hard to argue with kind hearted morality. You cant win. But are these words doing anything to change the staus quo?

          I used to argue with people like you DREAM. But not anymore. You speak about me (not to me) as if I were some wacko conservative. I am not. I dont score points I try to get people to think of solutions that can make 75% of the people happy 75% of the time. Its better than this crap I have been reading here. I also think i have have had more of a positive impact of conservative thinkers that you would with your assumptions (you never bothrered to ask me for my solution before making your pointless comment). You are a part of the problem despite your good intentions.

          September 14, 2012 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
  10. jace

    I understand that you (skastenbaum) the author is attempting to illicit empathy toward citizens of this particularly poverty stricken project development. However, I find it hard to empathize with the purpose of your story when so many people that live off the government teet have no intention whatsoever to ever bring about change within their lives. Your story's attempt to pull at heartstrings falls short on me. Your brief story is beyond one-sided.

    I have sympathy for people who find themselves down on their luck, but generations of "poverty" like the Damark Mitchells of the world are leeches on our society. I concede that things have been bad during the economic downturn, but how can this economic crisis of late be responsible for someone who has "lived his entire life" in this particular housing project? It doesn't list Damark's age but I would assume that he is at least in his 20s. Has he never been able to secure gainful employment? And if so, why continue to take advantage of government funded housing?

    While doing research for this "story," did you find answers to substantial questions such as: How many unwed mothers were born and raised in this project who are now continuing the cycle by having illegitimate children of their own? How many unwed mothers graduated from high school? You used Damark as an example...how many children does he have? How many of the residents you interviewed have felony convictions on their records preventing them from obtaining most jobs? How many of parents you interviewed are actively involved in their children's FREE education? Find any PTA moms? How many people other than Damark did you find attempt to find employment on a regular basis, which can be proven? How many residents have luxuries such as cable/smartphones? I think you get my gist.

    Bottom line (skastenbaum)....your story is a fluff piece intended to garner sympathy toward people who have lived their entire lives off the government dime which our taxes fund. Until this segment of the populace begins to take responsibility for themselves and contribute to society as a whole and stop the cyclical nature of the problem, I for one will continue to limit my empathy to the people who actually deserve it.

    September 13, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • BD

      Jace, I agree with *everything* you are saying. I don't think there's one unfair question being asked here.

      BUT –

      When you talk about cycles of poverty, it's just that – something that goes round and round that's very difficult to get out of. What you're dealing with is a community of people who are making little to no money. They are taxed on that money and that goes to fund their district's programs – chiefly, public schools. If you're taking 30% out of a check that's not much to begin with, you're left with even less in the end. These school systems now can't afford to A) hire teachers who are qualified and motivated to teach their students, B) keep the schools up and running and not falling down around the ears of the students, C) create a stimulating and positive environment for young learners, D) supply students with even the most basic of technological equipment (like computers and lab equipment). I could go on and on.

      From the get-go these kids are starting out from behind (they're not being taken to pre-school, they're not being read to at night for various reasons, they're not receiving proper nutrition to encourage brain development), and it continues on throughout their schooling age.

      If the kid ever gets to graduate, you're most likely dealing with a student who has sub-par testing scores, is barely literate and cannot make informed decisions regarding finances and their options in terms of furthering their education. And they're going to go up for a job or a scholarship opportunity against some kid who's even just a step higher up on the economic ladder and guess what? They're never going to get hired. Their life is a long list of fast food jobs that don't make enough to get by on, so they may resort to petty crime, get arrested and be even worse off.

      It's just not as simple as you make it out to be. And I'm not saying that there shouldn't be some personal accountability thrown in somewhere along the line – everyone makes their own choices from parent to child – but sometimes people's choices are a little more limited than others.

      September 13, 2012 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
      • jace

        I see where you are coming from, but you are deflecting a bit. Albeit difficult in some situations, cyclical generations of poverty can be broken. However, one must have a shred of pride and determination to pull one's self out. Passing the blame on to others like the public school system is a cop-out. You state that: " people who are making little to no money. They are taxed on that money and that goes to fund their district's programs – chiefly, public schools. If you're taking 30% out of a check that's not much to begin with, you're left with even less in the end." Are you referring to income tax? For those that can/do work, then yes, they will pay income tax. However, being under the poverty line, these people will be certain to receive practically anything they do pay into the system back. You continue to make a.b.c.d....bullet points about failing school systems. How can you honestly lay blame on a FREE education system. Do you know how many people around the world would kill for the chance at a free education? I have lived abroad in impoverished countries where children have zero educational opportunities, and you want to complain about public schools being unable to "create a stimulating and positive environment for young learners." Spare me the BS. By your logic, I guess you also believe that it is the responsibility for the school system to play a hand in raising said children.

        Next you say: "From the get-go these kids are starting out from behind (they're not being taken to pre-school, they're not being read to at night for various reasons, they're not receiving proper nutrition to encourage brain development), and it continues on throughout their schooling age." These are all parental responsibilities! Yet the government supplies WIC as well as EBT to ensure proper nutrition to "encourage brain development." The government supplies free healthcare (Medicaid) to ensure that if sick, said child is covered. Free housing (the basis of the story). Free transportation to and from the FREE education they receive. Now, even free cell phones are given out to people who receive government aid. I feel safe saying the government (my taxes) do a pretty d amn good job of making sure a "poor" child is covered. Do you advocate foster parenting for these children? How much more do you want the government to do?

        As you say in your paragraph 1, "I can go on and on." Buddy...there is no need to. You obviously missed the crux of my post: SELF RESPONSIBILITY! The government can throw program after program and dollar after dollar at some people, but without self responsibility, it's time and money wasted. As I see it, the taxpayers do more than enough to cover the dredges of society that continue to reproduce and continue the cycle. Unless the government institutes a program which will manually place c ondoms on these people before they have s ex, I say enough is enough. Fluff pieces like this story make a taxpaying citizen like me red hot mad. And I would venture to say that I'm not alone.

        September 13, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
        • SLAnderson

          Jace- I feel and understand every word you have said. I grew up "dirt poor." I went to bed hungry and cold in the winter, hungry and hot in the summer. Going into the military at 19 ended up being one of the best decisions of my life. I am now comfortably middle class and even at 48, I am pursuing further education. I agree with your posts – unless you are willing to work your way out of the hole (and so many are NOT willing), throwing more and more money at the poor does not seem to help!

          September 13, 2012 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • skastenbaumcnn

      @jace – "I find it hard to empathize with the purpose of your story when so many people that live off the government teet have no intention whatsoever to ever bring about change within their lives." Can you back up this statement with factual evidence, are you basing this on years of working within a poor community or is this pure conjecture based on your generalized presumption about a large group of people?

      " why continue to take advantage of government funded housing?" I suggest you read the article in the current issue of New York Magazine about the NYC Housing Authority. You will learn that this is a unique public housing system in the US today. There are no others like it. Rents are calculated on a sliding scale based on 1/3rd of the income of an individual's household. Many people in these units are working full time but still earn below the poverty line for their size families.

      As for the remainder of your comment posted here, you paint with broad generalities. In doing so you point out that poverty is a complex issue whose contributing factors are multifaceted and require nuanced solutions that address an individual's particular set of circumstances. Fixing broken schools and improving the quality of education at every level in poor communities seems to be a uniting issue among all groups dealing with the poverty. Parent involvement is only one aspect that determines the student's results when receiving a public school education.

      As for my intention, I was not seeking to create empathy. I was merely opening a window onto a world that most people who aren't poor never experience. But I'm glad it caused you to join in the debate here. Thanks for your comments.

      September 13, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
      • jace

        Steve Kastenbaum–
        I do believe you wished to garner empathy from this article. Nevertheless, you still did not answer any of the questions I posed? You pick out "Damark" to use as an example. How old is Damark? 20s, 30s, 40s? How many children has Damark fathered? Is his mother/father a product of this cyclical life in this housing project? If he is so "employable" through his certifications, what exactly holds him back from finding employment? Possibly a felony on his record? I highly doubt his physical permanent address is the deciding factor that keeps him from landing a job.

        Your "story" does nothing but dance around true issues and attempts to impart that these people can't get a leg up. See my response to BD. These programs I mentioned are all government (taxpayer) funded. Children are funded from inception until adulthood in many respects. Instead of passing off this fluff piece as journalism, how about some solutions? What do you think is the solution? More government involvement/money? I say he ll no!

        And yes, I have worked in several facets of social work in an inner city that deal with people in similar situations to the people in your article so I'm not giving "pure conjecture based on generalized presumptions about a large group of people." I will concede that not all people living in government funded housing are freeloaders. Nonetheless, I can say with certain that many are and look to the government as a crutch that will always be there. Something has to stop the cycle so that people like Damark do not have children who will have more children to continue the cycle. This is your story Steve....give us some solutions!

        September 13, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Daniel

    Poverty is everyone's fault but poor people's.. Just ask poor people..

    September 13, 2012 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
  12. skastenbaumcnn

    Coincidentally, New York Magazine published a story this week on the New York City Public Housing Authority which, if you count all of it's residents, would be the 21st largest city in America... bigger than Seattle and Boston. http://nymag.com/news/features/housing-projects-2012-9/

    September 13, 2012 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • skastenbaumcnn

      I meant its, not it's. Multitasking = typos

      September 13, 2012 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
      • john doe

        sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't. I agree that bad times are just plain bad, and lots of Americans don't get jobs because its easier to use Muslims and illeagle immegrants (no offense, just trying to make a point) than actual Americans, but there are still true American jobs for American people, if you look really hard. You can still make it on nothing.

        September 13, 2012 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Nakia

    Im sorry, I dont agree with this complaint. Mainly because I dont have a college degree, but am a single mother of 3 kids, in Washington DC. Our economy isnt much better than NY. It doesnt have anything to do with race. Its about how your market yourself, what your goals are, and achieving them instead of complaining!

    September 13, 2012 at 12:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Angel

      If only it were that simple,and i disagree,i believe race plays a big part.I've done internships for some pretty big companies and banks,Citibank,Goldman Sachs,and i can tell you first hand that there have seen and met only a handful of Black and Latino men in each company.i've mostly have seen white men and women and the minorities that are hired are mostly Black and Latino women,very few minority men.

      September 13, 2012 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
      • dani in tx

        could that possibly be because there are less highly eductated black and latino men than there are women? It is a statistical fact that there are more black men in incarceration than black women, which would then make more black women available to take those types of positions. i worked in the financial sector in texas, and large portion of the company was hispanic with some black and whites mixed in. I think it has more to do with the available educated work force. if there aren't a lot of well educated black and latino men in a certain employment sector, its probably because they aren't there. we should focus more on getting better education to everyone, instead of just saying its a race thing.

        September 13, 2012 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
  14. lolita from rhode island

    can yall keep your comments short please? this is not a newspaper. I like reading funny comments only

    September 13, 2012 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
  15. TheSchmaltz

    I see a lot of bootstrap pulling advocates here showing a lot of contempt for Mr. Mitchell. Tell me, would you hire him? I have a lot of sympathy for his situation, but if he walked into my office I'm not sure I would.

    September 13, 2012 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Angel

      Mr Mitchell has a point,these developers promise a million things to the people of the neighborhood when they want to build something or are given free property,then when the time comes to provide jobs they promised,you find out the jobs they post most likely can't be filled by people of the community,because either they are union jobs or the qualifications are too high for 90% in the community.

      September 13, 2012 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
  16. gerald yo

    hmm very little chance of any signifigant upward mobility? poor school systems struggling to find decent teachers and equipment? probable single parent/mother home? numerous friends and family dead or rotting away in prison for drug related crimes? the very real threat of being the victim of a violent crime on any given night? constant worry whenever your child leaves the house? watching friends led down the path to gang and drug life that poverty cultivates? and then condemned when i realize the futility of my existence and use drugs/drink as an anesthetic to my daily misery. sucks being poor

    September 13, 2012 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Angel

      you can also throw in,representatives and politicians that sell the community out,Colleges that swallow communities whole,No community ownership and lack of accountability amongst the community,Division created by the charter school scam,the list goes on.

      September 13, 2012 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
  17. JJ

    ok if u bring home $300.00 a week c if u can pay rent ,food and transportion in nyc . where there taxes r sky high .if didnt know rent is $ 1,200 a mth. if u think your getting a so called good job not in bk ,
    dont talk about stuff u dont know about .its not e-z living in nyc there r no jobs , health care is a joke .

    September 13, 2012 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Angel

      Pretty soon there won't be anything for Blacks and Latinos in NYC but Public Housing and welfare.

      September 13, 2012 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Babelfish

      Was this posted in English? Perhaps your ability to speak could be a problem with finding a higher paying job.

      September 13, 2012 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
      • Angel

        Go away you low class troll

        September 13, 2012 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
        • Squirrelyone

          Babelfish raises a perfectly valid point. In my old job, I employed student workers, and many sent me emails requesting employment that were worded and formatted much like this post. I did not hire them. How you present yourself, even in an online environment, is a major concern. Granted, this is an informal forum, but as Babelfish said, if that's the way you communicate even in a formal setting, as many do, you're doing serious damage to your chances of getting hired. After all, there's a little red squiggly line that tells you something needs correcting. If you can't be bothered to click and correct, why should an employer assume you'd be bothered to check your work on the job?

          September 13, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
  18. Angel

    I got news for you,developers don't fix poor neighborhoods to help the poor,they do it to drive the poor out and bring in a customer,they call it "gentrification".

    September 13, 2012 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
  19. Honest John

    These people aren't the poorest of the poor. Those people are just totally broke. What about the bloke that is $150k underwater on his mortgage? He has -$150k which for you math geniuses is less then 0.

    September 13, 2012 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
    • Angel

      i don't feel sorry for people who have mortgage debt,if you can't pay for it up front don't buy it,if a person wants to be a slave to a mortgage for 30 years,that's their choice and problem.

      September 13, 2012 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
      • JJ

        some 1 that lives on the same planet as i do

        September 13, 2012 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
    • judeamorris

      Comparing one's debt to one's income is ridiculous. I guarantee you that the person who is underwater on a mortgage by $150K makes over $9,000 a year. Poverty isn't figured by what you OWE - that's money you CHOSE to borrow against your disposable income. Poverty is figured by what comes in the door for BASIC NEEDS. If you purchased a home that isn't worth what you paid for it, you're not poor - you're stupid. You bought what you couldn't afford in the first place.

      September 13, 2012 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
      • Squirrelyone

        Or you lost your job before your 30 years were up. This is a tricky argument in this economy; one day you could be easily managing your loans and other expenses and even have plenty in savings in case of an emergency. Those savings go very quickly, though, when something goes wrong, and then you refinance to get yourself out of a pickle and dig yourself in deeper for the long run. Or you just overextended yourself in the first place. It can go both ways, though.

        September 13, 2012 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
  20. SB1790

    The public housing in my area is in shambles. Is it because HUD or whoever is in charge doesn't do any upkeep? Nope. They can paint, fix, clean up and in about a week someone has spray painted, thrown beer cans and trash all over and broken windows. You can be dirt poor and still be house proud. You do see some house (very few) who actually work to keep the place up.

    I actually heard a grievance from a woman complaining that the city (or whoever) didn't do anything to help them. They didn't pick up trash or nothing. Well, you have to actually put the trash IN the trash bins. The city doesn't pick up piles of furniture. And all the cars and their associated parts scattered around the yard isn't the cities responsibility.

    You can drive through there on any given evening and there's hookers, drug peddlers and gangs of kids running around throwing stuff at cars and stuff.

    There used to be a place next to the local University that encompassed several acres of apartments. Those were originally intended for students looking for low rent places within walking distance to school. However, since the rent was so low, it is now locally known as a no-go zone. It's full of drug dealers and you're very apt to get your car broken into. There's shootings and domestic assault cases there all the time. All you have to do is read the morning paper's Police/Crime reports and it's full of instances at those addresses.

    Evict bad tenants and clean up the place? Tough luck dealing with HUD. A unit would have to be a HAZ-MAT designation before they acted.

    No jobs you claim? Our area is great need of skilled workers. There's even entry level positions with a good advancement path for lots of places. Our company gets lots of applications. The issue? Felonies. We can't hire a felon for what we do. It's a no-no. We get excited when we get an application and the person doesn't have a felony record. Drug use? That can be overlooked if you're currently clean and working on staying sober. Multiple robberies, shootings and arson? Those are harder to overlook.

    You have some segments of society that won't play by the rules and cry foul when they're not included. And those ruin it for the people in need of legitimate help.

    September 13, 2012 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
    • skastenbaumcnn

      @SB1790 – You make an interesting point about job openings and applicants. Aurora Zepeda of the Institute for Children, Poverty and Homelessness told me a major problem in poor communities today is the lack of education for adults. She said that prior to the economic downturn there was a concerted effort in many cities to provide technical training for people living in poverty so that they could qualify for the skilled labor positions that were available. But over the last 5 years or so, due to budget cuts, most of those programs have dried up, especially those that maintain a connection with an individual over the course of several years. She believes programs like these are critical in the effort to break the cycle of poverty in poor families.

      September 13, 2012 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
      • JaxGuy

        You’re right. In my opinion, it all boils down to education. And I’m not talking about everyone getting an MBA. I’m talking basic skills. In my experience, it is very discouraging (yet common) to interview candidates who can’t spell simple words or use appropriate grammar. Many cannot construct a professional sounding email or memo, properly answer the phone, or even operate a PC. What these inner cities and poverty stricken areas need are training courses in how to perform basic tasks and how to function in a work environment.

        Not everyone is suited for a master’s degree. I get that. But there are thousands of entry level jobs with decent salaries that only require an applicant to communicate effectively and have basic skills. If we can’t even provide our people with the most remedial education, then we might as well give up.

        September 13, 2012 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
  21. WASP

    i find it really sad that americans are jumping striaght to the whole " they are using it for drugs and just living off my taxes" BS.

    it truly shows how narrow minded and judgemental you all have become.
    the poor aren't poor due to drug use, yet yes there are poor that do use drugs. if you want a crazy fact more rich and upperclass earners use more drugs than the poor, don't believe do some research they have the income to blow on it.

    the whole working part-time bit, if you're not in the south you might not know but all there is down there now is part-time work. employers figured out that if they higher a lot of part-time people at mininum wage, they can avoid paying for benefits and get out of the whole living-wage thing as well; it's a win win for them.

    if you haven't been poor, don't judge. in 2000 i lost everything and was facing living on the streets, i had one final hope; didn't like it wasn't thrilled but i enjoy eating and having a bed to sleep in, so i joined the army................went to war a couple times, got injuried now i'm disabled and barely making ends meet.
    so before you judge, think what your life would be like if you had things go wrong.

    oh one final bit of information; most military personel their families make below the poverty line and have to get food stamps to help support themselves, to me this is disgusting way to show our troops that we support them and their families.

    September 13, 2012 at 10:34 am | Report abuse |
    • FlipFlop

      If they aren't using the money for drugs then why do they fight the legislation that requires drug tests to be eligible for aid. I think that would put a lot of this argument to bed.

      September 13, 2012 at 10:37 am | Report abuse |
      • WASP

        @flip: truth i don't have an answer for that. my only guess would be "the empty can rattles the most" situation. it may be that the ones being so vocal about the drug portion are they drug users, but the vast majority are doing what? being quiet and not fighting something they know is right.
        if you want help it's simple to prove you are helping yourself by staying clean.

        September 13, 2012 at 10:50 am | Report abuse |
        • FlipFlop

          The "vast majority" are not being quiet. It takes more than a couple people to take the issue to the Supreme Court and have welfare deemed a constitutional right. And then have drug testing determined to infringe on that constitutional right, there must have been more than a few people complaining. Good thing this will change soon with states implementing their own requirements that ignore the Supreme Court precedent. Obama has set a dangerous precedent by allowing states to ignore federal law, but I like it.

          September 13, 2012 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
      • UseCommomSense

        Fight legislation??????? Oh yeah, I can just see so-and-so with her four kids, or whatshisnose and his kids trying to find babysitters, then get time off from work, and go and start the process for "fighting legislation". Get a grip.

        September 13, 2012 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
      • Phony

        Because it's a waste of money....? Show me one drug testing for welfare program that has saved money for the state. Newsflash: Most people aren't using. So states lose money when they implement these useless laws.

        Drug testing programs only exist to demonize and humiliate poor people. Notice how most drug testing is for poorly paid part-time positions. Where's the drug testing for execs and politicians? People of all levels use drugs but want to only arrest and ruin the lives of the poor. It only makes the cycle of poverty even worse.

        September 13, 2012 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
    • athought

      What is the appeal of crack? Its a rich person drug, huh?

      September 13, 2012 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Frank

      I too was in the military – and prior to when I went in – my father passed away – we went from middle class to low income – my mother didn't work. My brother's and I joined the military – we all took advantage of the GI Bill and now have perspective professions. In your post, you never did say anything about education or improving your conditions. I do applaud your dedication to your country. But, how do you help those who don't want help. My wife and I recently assisted a lady that was on gov't assistance with three children – oh make that four children – she got knocked up while we were trying to help her get on her feet. She did abuse the system. She finally move away went back to her home state and before she moved I asked her oldest daughter why they were moving – she said, my mom used up everyone and we're going back home. Needless to say, since then I've asked myself over and over – when is PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY going to kick in? I haven't found an answer to that...People need to quit blamming or making excuses for themselves and take the responsibility and press forward.

      September 13, 2012 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
  22. AMom

    I understand the comments on all sides...however what about the children that are living within these families? They didn't ask for poverty, poor education, food stamps, health insurance, handouts, office buildings, shoveled pathways or even life. Whichever path their parents has/hasn't selected does not mean that those children should not be provided the opportunities to survive, receive education and one day make decisions for themselves.

    September 13, 2012 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Squirrelyone

      That's the saddest part of all of it. At one point in my sordid past (graduate school...scary), I worked part time in a public library in a very depressed part of the city. One day, while observing a 12-year-old regular offender of just about every policy a place could have (physically attacking people, threatening to rape the little girls, etc.) being evicted from the building for the umpteenth time, the thought occurred to me that this kid was not going to live to adulthood. It was a sobering moment. Only by accident of birth was his way chosen for him. It's sad and it's also terrifying. But what can you do? Does anyone really have the right to intervene and break up a family without proof that there's serious neglect or abuse that will destroy this child's life? And once that proof is established, is it too late to undo all the damage? It's hard. The whole mess is hard to even think about.

      September 13, 2012 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
  23. Lynda

    I have been poor. I lived in low income housing and received AFDC (the old TANF) and food stamps for 2 years. It was the worst time of my life. I was disrespected, treated as though I were stupid, and no one cared one iota about what I wanted. The system is set up to get you down and keep you down. I wanted to go to college. This was discouraged. I was actually threatened by a case worker because I got a pell grant to go to school. The grant paid for books and tuition with less than $300 left and she wanted that cut from my benefits. I have worked since I was 15 years old but found myself with 2 children and a deadbeat ex who did not pay child support (and yes I filed on him). I put myself through 2 years of college on Pell Grants and working at Wendy's and McDonald's. All the while, DHS was riding my butt making it hard for me. I got married and this pulled me off the welfare rolls, not becaues we were making a lot of money as my husband was low ranking in the military and technically we still qualified for food stamps. But after he witnessed how I and the children were treated when he went to an appointment while were dating he said absolutely not, we would starve first. I continued to work towards my degree. I finished school and it took over a year for me to find a halfway decently paying job and that is when we begin to pull up out of poverty. There was no lobster and steak buying with foodstamps. I was never sitting on my butt happy to accept a check. I have never done drugs or anything else illegal. Are there people in our society who don't want to work...of course there are but most people do. Most people want more for themselves and their families. Thanks to my sticking with school despite DHS trying to get me to quit at every turn, I was able to give my kids a better life. But what I had going for me that many others don't is good role models. My parents had never received state assistance. That was not a life I knew growing up so it was uncomfortable for me and I did not want my kids to live like that. I wanted to choose where I lived and at what level instead of having it dictated to me. We need to be a little more merciful and understand that we have to be willing to give a hand up to those who need it. I have long since paid back many times over any dollar the state gave to me during those two years. My children are grown and all self supporting and I went on to complete a Masters degree and continue to thrive. So when you see someone living in poverty, it could be someone like me who just needs a bridge to a better life.

    September 13, 2012 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
    • DontAsk

      I'm glad that thing's turned towards the better for you. Wishing you and your's well. 🙂

      September 13, 2012 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |
    • skastenbaumcnn

      @Lynda – Thank you for sharing your story. During my reporting over the past 2 decades I spent a lot of time in poor communities. Do you think most people develop assumptions about the poor without ever having spent time in a poor community?

      September 13, 2012 at 10:37 am | Report abuse |
      • Lynda

        Yes, I was judged often. Despite making good grades in college I was often talked to as though I was stupid. It is amazing that I was blamed for being a single parent to two children while their father who was not providing support was not looked down upon. I did nothing to "deserve" being poor. I was raised in a good family and although we had some hard times, my parents always worked and supported us. My family helped me until I was able to make it on my own. If my family had not been there to remind me that I was not what the system and others were saying about me, I might have given up. There were countless times that I went to my mother crying and she had to tell me to wipe my eyes, lift my head, and go prove somebody wrong. I must admit I get some joy now when I'm in a professional setting and someone sits down and starts complaining about poor people and how sorry they are and I can look them in the eye and explain to them how it really is. I challenge everyone with the negative mindset to spend one week volunteering with the homeless. Yes they will meet people who are strung out on drugs and alcohol, but they will also meet hard working people who fell into a bad time and are struggling to get back out. Those are the people I refuse to allow others to overlook.

        September 13, 2012 at 10:45 am | Report abuse |
        • BD

          What a great story, Lynda – I wish you could share it with even more people.

          I think you have what a lot of these people the article is referring to don't have – a positive and support family, people to look to for guidance.

          I grew up incredibly poor myself – due to my father's PTSD from Vietnam, he could never hold down a steady job, so it was up to my mother to support us three kids. My family also saw the state of our public school system and said "no – we're not putting our kids there" so they sacrificed our entire lives to put us into private school. Because of that sacrifice, we were always the poor kids, no new clothes at the start of the school year, embarrassed to have friends over because our house wasn't very nice, etc. But I saw the dedication my parents had for our education and pushed myself to be the best I could be. I graduated the valedictorian of our high school class and went on to college on an athletic scholarship to a four-year university, which I graduated from five years later, with honors. I was the first person in my family to graduate with a university degree.

          Now, all through this, I was living in a low-income area, surrounded by drugs and petty crime, dog fighting and shouting from across the street in the Habitat for Humanity homes that we were never *quite* poor enough to afford. We didn't go out at night as kids. And I saw all that and said "no, I want something more for myself – I want to have a job one day that I can take care of my parents and take them out of all this." I'm still working on that but it was definitely a motivation.

          I feel so much for those kids who don't have what I had – positive role models in my parents who encouraged me to aim high, that I could do anything I set my mind to. It gave me confidence to believe in myself, to push myself and to try. But these kids...a lot of them don't have that...because their parents didn't have it. It breaks my heart to think of all the potential senators and doctors and scientists that could be born in the projects every day, but their potential is snuffed out before they even realize it.

          September 13, 2012 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
      • Choosing Wisdom

        Absolutely they do.

        September 13, 2012 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wanda

      Congratulations to you! I just left a reply for someone else who was saying that all people that lived there was on drugs and drink, but I let them know that the what he wrote was not true!! I love your determination and I myself was raised where i had never been on public assistance, but after having a child I applied for food stamps and wow, I had a caseworker that was so full of foolishness it was unreal..long story short, the food stamps I was on for a year, I found a job and have been working in Corporate every since (no college degree) but doing well, my child in her first year of college and we are doing well...thank yo so much for your comments on this posting.

      September 13, 2012 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Sam

      Living in poverty is a lot like congressmen and women. It is so easy for them to look from the outside in as they have probably never had the opportunity to be poor. I say oppotunity because that is what I consider it. I grewup in the crack infested streets of Lake Worth Fl. I had the crack dealers and cracks heads everywhere around me. I never touched the stuff and to hear the same guys today say " The system tries to keep a blackman down" so the only thing I can make a living doing is selling crack. My response? I told them look that's total BS. Look at me, yes I am white but so what, I am making good money after learning the computer industry by myself. I never went to college and I am self taught in the computer world. I own 4 computer companies in 3 states and I don't even have a high school diploma. I am 41 years old today and I would not trade my past today for anything. It has molded me into a fighter today by me NEVER giving up and never having an excuse as to why my problems are an issue. Life is what you make of it.

      I love my world I have made for my family and myself but I can't stand the government interference of my life at every single turn I make.

      September 13, 2012 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
    • bycracky

      Excellently put. My story has similarities to yours and I would just echo your last statement and say this: "it's easy to judge but harder to help." I'm sick of smug, self-satisfied finger-pointers who think they know the whole story about every single person receiving assistance. There is a back-story and more often than not, it includes a person or a family desperately wanting to be OFF of assistance and being self-supportive. It hurts us all as a society when we loudly berate the poorest among us instead of doing what we can to make a change.

      September 13, 2012 at 11:10 am | Report abuse |
    • springsgranny

      I applaud you for your drive and your ability to do what it takes to get out of your dire situation. Unfortunately, you are in a minority. There are far too many who don't give a damn.

      September 13, 2012 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Frank

      That's what welfare is supposed to be used for... not to live off it. You were down on your luck and took the responsibility to press on – to make something of yourself. Great job. I have a cousin that lives off welfare and she's teaching her children how to cheat the government. It ticks me off – I really don't associate with that cousin. And, yes, she used to be heavily into drugs.

      September 13, 2012 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
  24. WASP

    this is the problem we face in america. our jobs have been allowed to go over-seas due to legislation that benefits them, various tax loopholes, NAFTA, KFTA, non-living wages.

    to tell you folks the truth, if something doesn't change soon there won't be an america in another 50 years due to america looking like a powderkeg with a lite fuze as it is.

    September 13, 2012 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
    • FlipFlop

      The difference between America and these other countries that face similar problems is that we are too lazy to do anything about it. The other countries physically attack their governments and the companies causing the problems. The best we can do is a couple hippies sitting on, or "occupying", Wall Street.

      September 13, 2012 at 10:28 am | Report abuse |
      • Cuervo Jones

        Roger that. Koreans riot in the street when they get laid off.

        September 13, 2012 at 10:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Reaganomixs

      So the poor should have the tax cuts and the rich get none? Your logic is faulty.

      September 13, 2012 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
      • WASP

        @reagan: no i'm saying EVERYONE should pay the same based on your income.

        the rich getting tax breaks does what for this country?
        does it employ more people? NO, because i don't see a change in employment
        does it help lower the deficit? NO, because they spend it on cruises and other vacation get aways or they just squirrel it away.
        does it help increase salary of the working family? NO, it merely means the owner makes more profit
        does it help anyone other than their own interests? NO, because they can do like most richa ndput it in off shore accounts away from the IRS.

        end the tax loppholes, instate a flat tax rate. if you make more then you can afford to contribute more to the country; what would this accomplish?
        1) it would allow lower income earners to keep more money, thus WE the lower class have the buying power.........don't believe me whom has more buying power A MILLION PEOPLE WITH TEN DOLLARS or ASINGLE PERSON WITH A MILLION DOLLARS?
        hint it's not the rich guy.
        2) with the working class making and buying more demand goes up, thus producers need to higher more people to work leading to a cascade effect of increasing the job market and compatative wages for employees seeing demand will be high.
        3) close NAFTA or renegotiate it, so companies that exported jobs to make profit, get taxed more than our home grown companies allowing for a competive international market
        4) as the working class earns more they will move into higher tax brackets allowing the governement to increase revenue by having MORE high earners to tax, bringing down the american deficit and raising the value of the american dollar.

        i could go on and on, but no point, my poor working class ass can figure this out, then why can't the people running these billion dollar companies and our country figure this out?


        September 13, 2012 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
        • FlipFlop

          GREED is GOOD – G. Gekko

          September 13, 2012 at 10:50 am | Report abuse |
        • Mike

          The Republicans want to extend tax breaks for the rich. I don't understand why. They complain the rich are paying too much. I sat there and watched Mitt Romney answering questions about his tax returns and point blank stated that he payed "13.6% or something like that". Now, I know the tax rate for those with the highest income is around 35%. I think it's a disgrace that he can stand there and ask for tax breaks for the rich when he's not paying even half of what his tax rate should be. I pay over 30% in taxes and by the time all the government agencies get their cut, it's closer to 40% yet I made far less.
          The difference is Mitt and the rich have deep pockets to pay people to exploit and find every loophole possible. In addition, I can't afford to hide money. It sure must be nice to stash the cash where it's protected and avoid paying taxes. Unfortunately the vast majority of Americans don't have that luxury. They have to spend their income on things like bills, food, loans, etc. Once you have the money and start moving it, here comes the government with the taxes. Mitt? Just send it overseas or put it in tax shelters. Get your taxable income down to next to nothing and then complain that you deserve more breaks because you're already paying 13%. How about taxing them at 60% so by the time they get done with the loopholes they actually end up paying close to the 35% they're supposed to be paying? Vote republican? You've got to be kidding me.

          September 13, 2012 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
        • Reaganomixs

          @ Mike, wow way to go. Tax the rich at 60%? Are you kidding me? We were able to get out of a deficit once the tax rate for the rich was dropped. Research it. Each time the rich tax rate rises, we get into a deficit.

          September 13, 2012 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
        • Reaganomixs

          @WASP...America is an upside down pyramid, not rightside up. The rich support the lower classes with jobs, tax dollars, and loans.

          September 13, 2012 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
  25. NKB

    If you want to see a "Poverty Time Warp" take a trip to the Indian Reservations in places like South Dakota.......pulling yourself up by your "boot straps" is not so easy.... Don't judge people til you have "Walked a mile in their shoes"

    September 13, 2012 at 10:22 am | Report abuse |
    • FlipFlop

      I bet Damark's shoes are the new Jordan's.

      September 13, 2012 at 10:23 am | Report abuse |
      • NKB

        Please translate....

        September 13, 2012 at 10:33 am | Report abuse |
        • FlipFlop

          No translation needed. You're an idiot if you don't get it.

          September 13, 2012 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
  26. liberal disease

    you go into these apartments, they have flat screens, i phones and i pads but cannot afford healthcare? Cadillacs in the parking lots as well, Escalades!

    September 13, 2012 at 10:12 am | Report abuse |
    • DontAsk

      Do you know this for a fact or are you just talking out of your asss?

      September 13, 2012 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
      • Wanda

        Yea, it sounds like that person is talking out of his ass...assuming and not knowing any facts.

        September 13, 2012 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
      • UseCommomSense

        No, talking out of his ass, Probably has never seen low income houseing except in a movie. Oh, and those iphones and Caddie's belong to the drug dealers everyone always mentions first when reffering to the porjects. Must be a tea bagger,...

        September 13, 2012 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
    • skastenbaumcnn

      @liberal disease – Bill Cosby once ignited a firestorm years ago when he chastised African Americans for their consumerism, for buying $500 sneakers instead of buying educational toys for their children. A study out of the University of Chicago in the early part of this century concluded that African Americans and Hispanics spend up to 30% more of their income than whites do on visible goods like cars, jewelry and electronic. Sociologists argued that this was born out of a desire to elevate one's social status within their respective communities rather than some sort of moral weakness; that we all strive for an elevated social status in different ways.

      September 13, 2012 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
      • FlipFlop

        So you are saying his comment is a fact.

        September 13, 2012 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
        • skastenbaumcnn

          @FlipFlop – Did it sound like I was passing judgement one way or another? I was just drawing attention to a few related news items.

          September 13, 2012 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Lynda

      When I was poor my parents gave me hooptie that they payed about $350 for. Prior to that I was walking or begging rides (no bus line in my town at that time). I had a 12 inch black and white TV that got about 3 channels (no cable). A cell phone LOL, no way buddy. My mother paid for my land line because I had 2 small kids and she was worried something would happen and I couldn't call 911. But that is where I started, not where I am. Please stop believing the hype. Most more people are just stuck in low paying jobs and have little to no education. It doesn't help for people who have money to demonize people who don't have the resources to fight back.

      September 13, 2012 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |
    • Orlando

      You must be Romney Son because you have no idea what poor people faces on a daily basis.

      September 13, 2012 at 10:41 am | Report abuse |
      • Lynda

        Well since I'm a woman I am not anyone's son :-). And yes dear, I was actually poor. Poor is not the exact same for everyone. I didn't live in the inner city. But a low income housing complex is still a low income housing complex. Getting food stamps and TANF is still getting food stamps in TANF regardless of what city or state the person is in. People have individual barriers that make that move up easier or harder but that is just life. It is really debate whether my poverty was poor enough for me. That leaves me ROFL. You weren't there to endure it with me and frankly I don't wish it on you or anyone else.

        September 13, 2012 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
    • riiiight

      says someone who has never been in one. I have and I can tell you most do not have these items. It is a horrible living environment that I wouldn't wish on anyone.

      September 13, 2012 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
  27. dfearless

    So sad, but taxedmore is right. this persons job is probably part time maybe what like 10 hours a week at minimum wage. Most everything is paid for through benefits and the 9000 is most likely spent on drugs along with food stamps and what ever else they can trade for those drugs. Wup what a life. My sympathy will go out to them when the can pass a drug and alcohol screening.

    September 13, 2012 at 10:10 am | Report abuse |
    • Wanda

      I think that you are being ignorant, it does not mean that everyone living in those areas are on drugs and drink!! wow some people just love to run their mouth and have no idea of what others go through!! until you have experienced it...please be careful of what you say!!

      September 13, 2012 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
  28. Larry

    Damark Mitchell has lived here his entire life. He looks at the gleaming new office towers in nearby downtown Brooklyn and wonders why things haven’t improved at this public housing project...Has Damark ever picked up a paint brush to help improve the project? Does Damark shovel snow in the winter – or does the taxpayer have to pay to have this done for him? Does He have a cell phone? TV? NO Sympathy from me....

    September 13, 2012 at 9:59 am | Report abuse |
    • Thunder

      Good catch Larry, im adding that to my list...

      THEY SHOULD HAVE...not bought cellphones, tvs, internet, and caddys

      September 13, 2012 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
    • skastenbaumcnn

      @Larry – Actually, Damark doesn't sit around and do nothing. He's has certification to be a construction worker, to do various types of work in the construction trades. He has repeatedly tried to get work at the numerous projects being erected around his community but has come come up empty. He believes, as do his peers, that being from such a poor neighborhood is held against them in these job searches because employers assume they will steal things on the job. So Damark spends his days doing odd jobs, passing out flyers looking for handy man work. When he does find work, he told me he reports the income and pays taxes on it. Funny how you can make assumptions about an individual without ever having met them. Would you like me to make assumptions about you based on your one post? I think not.

      September 13, 2012 at 10:34 am | Report abuse |
      • Larry

        46.2 million living in poverty eh? That includes cell phones, cable, air conditioning, health care, apartments, cars, – Americans don't know what poverty is... I think we need a new word for people living on a little less money than folks in the middle class – but the word shouldn't be 'poverty'...

        September 13, 2012 at 11:01 am | Report abuse |
        • Choosing Wisdom

          There is a difference between poverty and destitution.

          September 13, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
        • Cuervo Jones

          Refrigerators too and microwave ovens. .

          September 13, 2012 at 10:10 pm | Report abuse |
  29. sally

    Heartbreaking, why do we do this to people? Why are we so insensitve to the pain of our neighbors? This is certainly nothing to be proud of as a nation filled with the kind of wealth that it is. The wallstreet protests were all about this, we need them again.

    September 13, 2012 at 9:52 am | Report abuse |
    • jimbo

      they did this to themselves. go peddle your liberal guilt somewhere else

      September 13, 2012 at 10:18 am | Report abuse |
      • DontAsk

        Tell us Jimbo, how do you know what put these people in this position? Yeah, I would say that poverty to some is self inflicted, but to say that about all of the poverty stricken is narrow minded. So many that are disabled, mentally challanged due to no fault of their own and you say they did this to themselves.

        You should trying thinking outside the box.

        September 13, 2012 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
      • K

        A hit dog will hollar!

        September 13, 2012 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
    • NTZ1966

      Our government can only do so much. Everybody needs to take responsibility of their lives. I was poor and really poor way back, but I went to school and work very hard, didn't make excuses of my misfortune, so many times I fall but got up immediately, dust myself, move on. Also back then I was qualified for government aid but I refused as I want to prove myself I can survive without taxpayers supporting me. I double nor tripple my time to work very hard. Now I am financially comfortable thank God. There are valid excuses but don't over used it otherwise you disable yourself.

      September 13, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  30. Thunder

    Ok, now its time for the "THEY SHOULD HAVE" remix...

    THEY SHOULD HAVE....got off their butts and get a degree
    THEY SHOULD HAVE....prayed harder
    THEY SHOULD HAVE....got a job
    THEY SHOULD HAVE....got off welfare
    THEY SHOULD HAVE....worked harder
    THEY SHOULD HAVE....stop spending their foodstamps on lobsters and steak
    THEY SHOULD HAVE....got five full time jobs
    THEY SHOULD HAVE....stopped being so lazy
    THEY SHOULD HAVE....been dependant on themselves and not the government
    THEY SHOULD HAVE....stopped buying drugs
    THEY SHOULD HAVE....stopped having kids out of wedlock
    THEY SHOULD HAVE....stopped complaining, since I was able to go to school full-time, while working a job paying 50k a year to pay for my schooling.

    September 13, 2012 at 9:52 am | Report abuse |
    • sally

      aren't you lucky Thunder. do you think there are really jobs for everyone and if you happened to start off homeless in life, how easy would it have been to turn that around. If you are making great money, hopefully you will now help others instead of blaming them for being in a state of terrible suffering.

      September 13, 2012 at 9:54 am | Report abuse |
      • Thunder

        lol, i was being sarcastic. No I agree with you, we need to be merciful towards the poor.

        September 13, 2012 at 9:57 am | Report abuse |
        • skastenbaumcnn

          I@thunder – I was wondering whether you were being serious or sarcastic. Their ought to be an emoticon for sarcasm.

          September 13, 2012 at 10:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Jason

      You are pretty lucky, Thunder, with the chance to work a job paying 50k that is willing to work around a full time schooling schedule. Consider the fact that I work in an office with at least a dozen people with college degrees (no, not BS degrees) that make far less than 50k and have rigid work hours with no flexibility. Most people near my local college have to work dish washing and other service jobs barely getting them 10-15k.

      September 13, 2012 at 10:04 am | Report abuse |
      • Been There

        @Thunder & Others.

        Please don't assume that everybody falls into the category of having big HDTVs and other such luxuries. I was born into a poor family and we really didn't have much. It was only my dad, myself and my brother living in an apartment. My dad worked his butt off to bring in as much money as he was able to, but we were still poor as it wasn't much brought in. We didn't have these awesome things that some folks might have. I must admit, having nothing motivated me to work my ass off, working full time (with crappy pay, just enough for transportation and books with some food) and school full time. Hell, I didn't even own my first computer until I had a job after college; always had to use the computers at the school library.

        Bottomline, don't assume everybody "abuses" the system for their personal needs and does nothing. While I say this, I definitely can agree with that there are plenty of individuals who do take advantage of their situation. Unfortunately, I DO see people doing nothing, enjoying their life since everything is mostly handed to them.

        The system needs to be completely revamped and perhaps turned into something like the Unemployment system. For example, you need to have worked for a certain amount of quarters or years to be even eligible. Additionally, it isn't a forever type of thing, there will be an expiration date to your claims. Having individuals who say, I have no money, give me aid is a small part of the problem in this country. Suffice to say, there are a multitude of problems, but the poor aren't the only ones guilty of causing the situation this country is in.

        September 13, 2012 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
    • Wanda

      Good for you thunder.....now that you have allthose ignorant rans off your chest, why don't you try helping some of those people instead of naming s–t you think they should be doing? foolishness!!

      September 13, 2012 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
    • JJ

      i guess u never been to brooklyn b4

      September 13, 2012 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
  31. taxedmore

    "extreme poverty – $9,000 a year for a family of three" – assuming the "three" is a single mother and two kids – does figure include the $5500 from EITC, the $2000 child tax credit, the $8000 free rent (the subsidized part), the $15,000 cost of Medicaid for the family, the $500 for a free cell phone and minutes? Add in $7000 for food stamps. Let's see – add them all up and it is more like $47,000 a year. Of course you have to add in a few thousand dollars more for cash "benefits", TANF or whatever. It sure must be tough for them. I know it is tough for the taxpayers who are paying for it.

    September 13, 2012 at 9:51 am | Report abuse |
    • onestarman

      It is a Sad-Sad Little Person who feels the need to talk about their Tax 'Burden' when reading an article about Abject Poverty. SELFISHNESS may be the Highest Morality of the Patron Sociopath or the New Right – AYN RAND – but it really just means you are a CREEP.

      September 13, 2012 at 9:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Trey

      47,000 a year? That still isn't shit. You make it seem like they are rolling in money after they received some help. I'm 23, have an engineering degree, and I COULD NOT live off of 47,000 a year. How could you make it seem as if a family of 3 is comfortable off 47,000.

      September 13, 2012 at 10:10 am | Report abuse |
      • jimbo

        If you can't live off $47K, then your an 1diot

        September 13, 2012 at 10:20 am | Report abuse |
        • RoomieRob

          Before you call someone an idiot, consider first in what state Trey lives in. $47K a year in the state of CA may not be as confortable vs. someone who lives in the state of VA. Standards of living, sir. Keep that in mind. Not to mention the loans Trey has to pay back so that he could obtain his degree. Poor jimbo is the one who is looking REAL foolish today!

          September 13, 2012 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
      • Me

        A family of 3 could live very comfortably on 47,000 a year if they are living in subsidized housing. I manage a section 8 complex and I assure you that my families who claim they have no income have nicer clothes and nails than I do. My husband is active duty military and I work a full time job and we are barely making it and we don't use credit cards and those things either. We stil live paycheck to paycheck and survive. So just because some residents in these complexes are using the program for what it is intended for, the majority are not. They are living off the system and collecting a paycheck while there rent is paid.

        September 13, 2012 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
        • Larry

          This is what I see happening as well. Also, when one subsidized person finds a 'loophole' – word gets out fast and they all qualify for more goodies! I worked several hundred hours with Habitat for Humanity and it was time to paint the 'owner to be's" bulkhead. She refused as she had had her nails done the previous Friday evening! So I painted it myself – I had a warm, fuzzy feeling all over for sure!

          September 13, 2012 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
      • Squirrelyone

        Heehee. I have a Master's and have been professionally employed for a few years, but $47k seems like a sum greater than I could figure out how to spend. But then I live in Ohio. The $38k that makes me so happy and lets me pay my mortgage, student debt and grocery bills and still allow for cable and occasional fancy coffee would have to raise to $75k in NYC, according to the bestplaces.net cost of living comparison. It really does matter where you live–sadly, it seems the only places that are hiring at all are hiring at Ohio rates with NYC bills.

        September 13, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • skastenbaumcnn

      @taxedmore – When the Census Bureau puts out figures like these they are looking at earned income, i.e.: any money earned from working at all, whether it's part time or full time. Are you saying that government provides too much of a safety net for single parent households and people who are unable to find work? You're not wrong to point out that all of the services provided to the poor are a cost to taxpayers. But remember, these programs grew out of an desire to rid our cities of slums. While tax dollars support these programs for people on the lowest rung of the socioeconomic ladder a strong argument can be made that abject poverty in slums was an equally costly burden on our society. We can take the conversation there but it's a touchy subject, urban renewal.

      September 13, 2012 at 10:16 am | Report abuse |
      • bigdumbdinosaur

        But remember, these programs grew out of an desire to rid our cities of slums.

        Sure worked out well, hasn't it? The "slums" aren't the problem, just the residents who haven't the motivation to make their situations better.

        September 13, 2012 at 10:23 am | Report abuse |
    • bigdumbdinosaur

      Damark Mitchell has lived here his entire life.

      Nothing like having a home where the taxpayers take care of your rent for you. Sounds like Mr. Mitchell lacks motivation to do anything about his "woe is me" situation.

      I'll start sympathizing with these so-called poor people when they start making something of themselves. Mostly what I see are patterns of self-destructive behavior being endlessly repeated. I'm fed up with my hard-earned money being siphoned off to support the Damark Mitchells of the USA. As the old adage goes: if you make it easy for poor people you're going to have a lot of poor people.

      September 13, 2012 at 10:20 am | Report abuse |
      • TheSchmaltz

        "if you make it easy for poor people you're going to have a lot of poor people."

        And if you don't give them anything you're going to have a lot of dead people, or criminals when they have no alternative.

        September 13, 2012 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Jo Ann

      There are many flaws in your math. To begin with, if a family received $9000 in earned income, plus $7500 in earned income and child tax credits, they would NOT qualify for the full $7000 in food stamps. Only in expensive, urban areas would a family receive $8000 in housing subsidies; even families who are completely destitute would not receive that much in most of the country. The $15000 in medicaid is not fungible – it is not cash that they can use as needed, only an insurance policy for health care; yes, there is a substantial cost to taxpayers, but the family is not pocketing those funds, and most families will not use that much in benefits each year. The largest cost to medicaid is not for families with children, but for elderly living in nursing homes. Your $47,000 figure is way off base.

      September 13, 2012 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
      • Jo Ann

        If you go to the online food stamp calculator, you'll find that if a family of 3 has only the $9000 annual income, the most they can get in food stamps is $390/month (<$4700/year); adding in the refundable tax credits would further reduce that. I don't know where you got the $7000 from, but it is way off base.

        September 13, 2012 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
  32. p-zombie

    spent my Sunday at Real Life Church in Canarsie. Great hospitality and a great congregation. I highly recommend. Great great warriors of light. God bless them.

    September 13, 2012 at 9:49 am | Report abuse |