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

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license 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.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid