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

Myanmar Fighting Poses Dilemma for China

To gain some insight into conflict, VOA’s Steve Herman spoke with Min Zaw Oo, director of ceasefire negotiation and implementation at Myanmar Peace Center More

Australia Concerned Over Islamic State 'Brides'

Canberra believes there are between 30 and 40 Australian women who have taken part in terror attacks or are supporting the Islamic State terror network More

Recreational Marijuana Use Now Legal in Washington, DC

Law allows adults 21 and over to privately possess and smoke 0.05 kilogram of pot, and to grow small amounts of the plant 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More