News / USA

Nevada Families Struggle with Poverty in Shadow of Casinos

Multimedia

Mike O'Sullivan

New figures show that more Americans live in poverty than at any time in the past 17 years - more than 15 percent of the population.  Our correspondent recently went to Las Vegas, Nevada, which has been hard hit by the recession of the past few years. In the shadow of the city's glittering casinos and resorts, he found that many poor families struggle to get by.

The summer heat has brought many homeless and unemployed people to a cooling station run by Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada.  

Former construction worker Richard Scanlon is disabled, but says many able-bodied friends are out of work.  

"Ten, 15 years ago, if you couldn't get a job in Vegas, you weren't looking for one.  Now it's tough," said Scanlon.

Some families get help from Family Promise, a national charity that finds temporary shelter and helps people get jobs and apartments.

Cassendra Waller is a mother of two who moved into a new apartment and got help to furnish it.  

"When you get a job and you're making a minimum wage, how do you pay a babysitter for two kids every day?  I wound up homeless several times, and this is the worst I've seen the homelessness in Vegas," said Waller.

Director Terry Lindemann explains that Family Promise of Las Vegas works with religious organizations that offer short-term housing.

"We bring together Catholics, Protestants, Jewish congregations, Muslims to open up their congregations at night to be overnight shelters," Lindemann said.

NaDeeryah Yehudah Edward, a mother of three, went through the program.  She sobbed when she first spoke to the director on the phone.

"She said, 'I can't understand what you're saying, but whoever this is, I'm going to help you.'  And she kept saying that.  'I'm going to help you, don't worry, I'm going to help you.'  And she helped us," said Edward.

Edward now has an apartment and is studying to become a chef.

Homelessness and poverty are hardest on children.  More than 6,000 students are homeless in Las Vegas.  A federal program helps provide school materials and supplies like toothpaste.  Many more children get free or subsidized meals.

Tourism drives the economy here.  Economist Stephen Brown at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, says it is starting to pick up.  But he says that won't offset the crash of the U.S. housing market, which reversed years of growth in Las Vegas.

The state has the highest unemployment rate in the country, at 12.9 percent, and the highest home foreclosure rate.

"So what we really need is for the forces that were pushing population to Las Vegas in the past to resume," Brown explained.  "And that really means that the whole U.S. economy needs to get moving again."

Terry Lindemann at Family Promise says politicians don't understand the problem.  

"I believe that every politician in America today, to be able to help and advocate for this issue of poverty and homelessness, should check into a rescue mission on a Sunday afternoon, give up their ID, go in just as a homeless person would, travel this situation for a week, and then see the dilemma," said Lindemann.

Lindemann says the economy needs to improve, but in the meantime, those at the bottom are desperate and that charities like hers are doing what they can to help.

You May Like

Scotland Vote Raises Questions of International Law

Experts say self-determination, as defined and protected by international law, confined narrowly to independence movements in process of de-colonization More

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 More

Annual Military Exercise Takes on New Meaning for Ukraine Troops

Troops from 15 nations participating in annual event, 'Rapid Trident' in western Ukraine More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid