February 11th, 2009
12:45 PM ET
9 years ago

Homeless woman's plea to Obama draws flood of support

President Obama talks to Henrietta Hughes at a town hall rally in Fort Myers, Florida, on Tuesday.

President Obama talks to Henrietta Hughes at a town hall rally in Fort Myers, Florida, on Tuesday.

(CNN) - She's being hailed as the "face of the economic crisis," and now Henrietta Hughes has become somewhat of a media star after reaching out to President Obama on Tuesday in an emotional plea for help.

Watch: Hughes tells Obama she needs help

Her message: My son and I are homeless, and we need immediate help.

"I have an urgent need, unemployment and homelessness, a very small vehicle for my family and I to live in," Hughes told Obama at a town hall rally in Fort Myers, Florida, as he pushed for passage of his stimulus plan in the Senate. "The housing authority has two years waiting lists, and we need something more than the vehicle and the parks to go to. We need our own kitchen and our own bathroom. Please help."

Hughes said she had been homeless after her son lost his job and, subsequently, their home. Although her son has been looking for work, Hughes says, so far, no luck.

White House spokesman Joshua Earnest said Wednesday that the administration connected Hughes - who did not vote in the 2008 election because she didn't have a home - with local housing officials, who happened to be in the crowd.

And it wasn't just officials reaching out.

Full Story

Filed under: Economy • President Obama
soundoff (98 Responses)
  1. hadelaide

    To all you cynics who say this was a setup. People in this area were in lines (literally camping out) a full day before the event. Do you know that this area voted overwhelmingly for McCain? This was not a setup like Joe the Plumber! These were republicans who wanted to get some answers. Apparently, the plight of this woman convinced people to get out of their ivory towers and lend a hand to someone in need. When the spotlight showed the grim reality in this area, the republicans in control were put to shame.

    February 11, 2009 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  2. geecee

    Betty – why would they bother to set this up? It doesn't make anyone look bad or good. It's just a poor woman among many poor people who have no home and no work. Obama is already President -he doesn't need to campaign. He actually feels he is listening to the people and he goes to a county in Florida (Lee) that actually didn't vote for him. So, how is it a set-up? The guy can't even try to reach out to people without some cynical person such as yourself, complaining that the guy is "full of himself," "still campaigning, " "spending money to travel needlessly." He can't even show he cares about Americans. You will never see him as doing anything right because you cannot transcend his color. Be honest. He will never satisfy any of you who think that way.

    February 11, 2009 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  3. Mark

    The Republicans have been given every opportunity to work with the administration and democrats to get this thing done and all they want to do is act in an obstructionist fashion. I say screw bi-partisanship and use the majority to get things done for the American people. In 2 years the Republicans will be rewarded by the majority of Americans with complete decimation.

    February 11, 2009 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  4. SallySue

    Bill & Hillary would of offered to rent her the Lincoln bedroom!

    February 11, 2009 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  5. Laura, Boston

    There are a lot of people who need housing due to being homeless. Henrietta is one of many!

    Is there going to be free housing for them? How about other entitlements? It goes to show that the people need the money from this stimulus not the Museum of Science or a company that will employ 10 people at over $250,000 per job.

    Divide the money up per taxpayer...yes taxpayer! If a person paid taxes in 2008, they would qualify for a share of this 800B dollar stimulus. You could put an income cap of $200,000K on it so no rich persons get any stimulus money.

    In this way, the little people would get help!!!

    February 11, 2009 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  6. echange01

    Keep hating you Haters!!! The President will only rise higher and help those who are in need. Just keep hating I love it!

    February 11, 2009 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  7. Kurt C.

    I pay my bills, but I need help, too. Where's my handout, Obama!

    February 11, 2009 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  8. a southern bell



    February 11, 2009 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  9. NC

    i agree with betty, this was a total setup, just like on monday in indiana, he takes a question from a 9 year old when the questions were getting too hard for him, that was a setup too.............no more campaigning obama , get to work.........

    February 11, 2009 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  10. J.P.

    Oh Barry, and I need some pork chops... can you give me some pork chops? And how about an iPod... I desperately need an iPod. Maybe you could carve a few dollars out of your Multi-generational Economic Slavery Bill to get me an iPod.

    I also like Lexus, can I get a Lexus too?

    February 11, 2009 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  11. Rob, AK

    The fact that a Republican offered her a house rent free is the point. This article is just underscoring that the economic crisis affects all of us equally and it calls on us, as Americans, regardless of party affiliation to work together for the common good.

    Republicans (politicians notwithstanding) are just like your everday Democrats, and Independents. At the the most basic level, we all need the basic essentials to live.

    Some of these comments, from both sides...are sick. Ask yourselves if your neighbor has a differing political view than yours and is struggling to save their home, is going hungry, can't pay their bills, take care of their children...etc..., would you honestly refuse to help them...simply because you cannot get past your political views?

    February 11, 2009 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  12. Virginia

    I see the messiah has spoken and everything fell into place. Too bad he can't speak and the rest of the problems get fixed. I went all of 2007 without a job and couldn't buy one. Had someone else paying my $1200 a month COBRA insurance, and still worried about what to eat. Also ran paid off credit cards up just to make ends meet, and my daughter will be paying them off when I die, because no one wants to fix the credit industry. NObama needs to stay in Washington and get something realistic done, not sign the stupid "stimulus" spending package.

    February 11, 2009 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  13. Cruzan Obama Mama

    That is a real person, with real issues. For all of those who are saying that this is a set-up...,,,,.you have to remember that the Repubs are notorious for doing set-ups that eventually backfire....Need I bring up Joe the Non-Plumber. GET OVER IT!!!!

    I have family in FL and it is horrible down there. It is sad to drive through some neighborhoods and see nothing for foreclosure signs. People take your heads out of the clouds and notice that this crisis is REAL and it is affecting EVERYONE......Democrats and Republicans.

    February 11, 2009 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  14. Red State Mama

    What have we become? Have we absorbed so much negative vile & hate that we now look down on the unemployed (through no fault of their own), the hungry & homeless (including veterans) as people who are lazy, undeserving or working a scam? At what price have we sold our humanity to become so arrogant?

    February 11, 2009 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  15. honeychild


    You are an complete idiot, "JOE THE PLUMBER' was a set up! Henrietta Hughes resepents many Americians who need help and need it now. This is not about race, age , or gender. It's only by the Grace of GOD that you aren't in the same situation.

    February 11, 2009 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  16. LGriff


    February 11, 2009 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  17. Matthew, Houston, TX

    Gerda Edwards February 11th, 2009 2:17 pm ET

    So when will the DNC and liberal media start investigating and publishing her background, tax records, license status, etc.? Maybe Joe the Plumber would have a job for her if…

    Pres Obama wants to "create or save 4 million jobs." So what? Pres Bush "created or saved" over 130 million jobs.


    First off, Gerda, "What?!" What you said made absolutely no sense. And where in the heck did you get that 130 million jobs statistic? Which orifice did you pull that out of?

    Generally, job growth is normally expected to be around 12 million over any presidents 8 year term just from a normally growing economy so that 130 million is just plain ridiculous under normal circumstances. Under Bush, I believe the number was less that 6 million jobs created but the workforce grew faster than job growth so we have a higher number out of work.

    February 11, 2009 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  18. Lisa in Florida

    Please post my earlier comment. I think it is important as I was there.

    February 11, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  19. Patty

    It doesn't matter what I post here because you are not going to post it. You say you moderate these comments but how could you. If you did you would not alllow all of these vile comments to be posted. CNN you are doing great harm to this country by allowing all of this hate to be posted. How can AMERICANS heal if you continue to let hate prevail on these sites.

    Just my opinion, but I am sure this will go to being moderated and end up in the dead file.

    February 11, 2009 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  20. mw


    February 11, 2009 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  21. Rick

    Unfortunately this is the face of what this nation is turning into thanks to democrats cradle to grave mentality.

    February 11, 2009 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  22. gina

    Wow! This heroic woman that is battling cancer is keeping her family together and surviving the best she can. she wasn't asking someone to rescue her, she was asking for guidance. She was asking for a bathroom and kitchen. Some jerkoff above was asking for a lexus and an ipod. Seriously? Who raised you? Maybe it was one of these other people that enjoy kicking little old ladies. Maybe it was Betty! And by the way, republicans have not cornered the market on stupidty. Stop pointing fingers and start helping people in your communities. This is not about manipulating people! President Obama is showing us how to treat each other, and you are all pulling pigtails and being phony. Grow up!

    February 12, 2009 04:28 am at 4:28 am |
  23. Anonymous

    what a scam

    February 12, 2009 05:34 am at 5:34 am |
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