May 10th, 2009
07:19 PM ET
14 years ago

King: Bad economy puts more families on the streets

Editor's note: On CNN's "State of the Union," host and chief national correspondent John King goes outside the Beltway to report on the issues affecting communities across the country.

LOS ANGELES (CNN) - The tears begin and her voice trembles as Ruth Martinez remembers the first few days of her new world.

She would leave work, pick up her son Jacob at school and drive aimlessly, sometimes sneaking back to the office, "to watch TV there without my boss knowing."

Her husband had lost his job, and the stress drove them apart. Then Martinez was evicted. Suddenly, her car was her home. And she was afraid to ask for help.

"We just prayed," Martinez told us. "And I was embarrassed because a Hispanic Latina does not ask for help. The way I was raised, you put your pride to the side and did what you had to do."

Rudy Salinas finds them in cars, under bridges, in abandoned homes, and even in protected trenches artfully dug by the military veterans who put survival skills learned in Iraq and Afghanistan to use in America's inner cities.

Salinas has been working to help the homeless here for eight years now, driving the streets every day looking for people hiding under bridges and in abandoned properties. More and more of late, there are people in business clothes, heading off to work. More and more, they are women with young children.

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Filed under: Economy • State of the Union
soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. Proud DHS radical

    And in the mean time, our politicians are living high off the hog. Why even Nancy Pelosi was able to quietly sneak out of the country for some much needed R&R and to avoid the press.

    May 10, 2009 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  2. gorefan

    Back in January, conservative commentator George Will pointed out that McDonald's quarterly profits were up. His point was that people were adjusting to the loss of income and jobs by cutting back on spending as if that was a good thing.

    I suppose, we should take solace in the fact that families like the Martinez are adjusting nicely to the economic realities.

    May 10, 2009 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  3. Jackie in Dallas

    This is the shame of our society...that we have forgotten how to ask for help. And there are so many needing it. I came all too close to being one of those - foreclosure on my modest little house with a VA loan came perilously close TWICE for me. However, we have to stop vilifying those who ask for help.

    I wonder if Ms. Martinez was getting the snide comments about welfare moms I see posted all the time. There are as many stories of decent, hard-working people losing their homes as there are those who sought to buy more house than they could afford - but we don't hear about them. No, it is easier to just pigeonhole everyone who is homeless as a loser who deserves to be on the street. No wonder she didn't seek help!

    May 10, 2009 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  4. Dennise

    She has professional highlights on her hair.. $80 at the least. She has fake finger nails, $30 – $40 to start, and $20 every 2 weeks to fill. She wants us to feel sorry for her, for being homeless. What I see is someone who does not use money to house herself and child, but on glitter for herself. Shame on her. Shame on the reporter for not asking about this.

    May 10, 2009 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  5. C.C. Crawford

    To what extent is the face of homelessness in California, at least So. California Latino? Is the lack of an Immigration Policy the past 20 years a factor?

    May 10, 2009 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |