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

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee 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.
South Africa Sees Male Circumcision as Way to Reduce HIV Infectionsi
X
November 28, 2014 3:31 PM
South Africa remains plagued by AIDS despite massive government and NGO efforts on prevention and life-sustaining Anti-Retro-Viral programs. But the country has opened up another front to reduce new HIV infections: promoting circumcision. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from a pioneering circumcision center in Orange Farm, Johannesburg.
Video

Video South Africa Sees Male Circumcision as Way to Reduce HIV Infections

South Africa remains plagued by AIDS despite massive government and NGO efforts on prevention and life-sustaining Anti-Retro-Viral programs. But the country has opened up another front to reduce new HIV infections: promoting circumcision. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from a pioneering circumcision center in Orange Farm, Johannesburg.
Video

Video To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violence

The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.

All About America

AppleAndroid