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How poor people survive in the USA | DW Documentary

How poor people survive in the USA | DW Documentary
in southern california the sun rises over san diego bay next to a major road in this parking lot 54 year old maria begins her day straighten my bed this car is her home this is every day this routine about stretching my bed maria no longer has a place to live she has been sleeping in her van for a year now looks pretty nice you don't you don't see it doesn't seem that you live here but um you do i have seen

people

with their cars so messy and things all over the place and how can i
how poor people survive in the usa dw documentary
go to work with my life like that i mean has to have a little order you know because is what we need to continue it's a it's not that perfect but it's the way i want and makes me feel better just like maria around 30 other

people

sleep overnight in their cars in this free parking lot nevertheless most of them work they are security guards uber drivers secretaries or even computer technicians maria is a cleaner and a carer exhausting work that she does seven days a week to provide
some comfort for all these

people

an organization has supplied them with a water point portable toilets and a small outdoor kitchen where maria prepares her morning coffee before going to work this kind of bullock bulletproof coffee it's very famous in the united states maria's full from grace is a situation that affects thousands of other americans for a long time she had everything she always wanted she was married and lived in this beautiful house but after five years of living
together her blissful marriage suddenly fell apart he kind of dumped me dumped me it's okay it didn't work bye-bye okay bye-bye see you later i said what no i don't have a place no home i'm a homeless nobel no no furniture no house so it's just my car i have a seat here and um yeah that's the way it is maria preferred to leave everything to her ex-husband and turn over a new leaf but over the last several years in california the cost of rent has risen so much that her
salary the equivalent of 1 500 euros was not enough for her to afford an apartment maria is just one of many middle class americans who have in recent years fallen into poverty officially america is great again since the 2008 crisis the economy has never been stronger with record-breaking growth and unemployment has dropped to a historical low less than four percent an upturn for which donald trump has claimed all the credit there has never been a better time to start living the american dream
but despite what the president claims the famous american dream is far from being achieved 40 million

people

are living below the poverty line and millions of workers will go to great lengths to stay above it do you get money are you familiar with plasma you give okay i do that twice a week becoming homeless overnight is what these americans fear most because here the system is not very kind to those short of cash you better catch up real quick or you're going to have a judgment of
possession against you and get addicted in some states being late on your rent is no laughing matter sheriff's office one by one tenants are evicted at gunpoint where am i going to sleep i can sleep in the hotel if i need to for these americans on the verge of ruin seeking medical treatment can cost a fortune it's hard to eat and take your medicine too because you may not get one or the other so some

people

are standing up in solidarity making sure they're taken care of free of
charge in field hospitals not unlike those found in a country at war an insight into the lives of those who cannot scrape a living in the heart of destitute america san diego in southern california 300 days of sunshine a year and beaches as far as the eye can see this is picture postcard california san diego is also one of the most dynamic cities in the country here unemployment is practically non-existent this dream lifestyle was once an everyday reality for eric he was a successful computer
engineer earning 7 000 euros a month today at 53 years old this man lives alone in his car and in order to eat for free he has made an arrangement with the staff at a pizzeria hi hello how are you today getting you good i'm here to pick up some yep thank you what do you take here uh these are the slices that they have in their display that uh they have them for too long then they put them in the fridge for me so that they uh donate them eric comes every evening to pick up some leftover
pizza well thank you very much very much appreciate it okay bye-bye he's going to share these unsold slices with other victims of poverty because for a year and a half eric has been sleeping in this parking lot the one where maria the cleaner also lives his pizza deliveries make his neighbors very happy like lorella a 55 year old uber yeah driver hungry did you eat today no no no i had a drive all day today in his former life eric also worked a lot 50 hours a week but four years ago he
suffered a burnout and also problems with his heart he could not work and received unemployment benefits for six months and then nothing at all i thought i could handle it i thought it would get better but it took a toll and after several years of just dealing with doctors and going burning through my savings i ended up basically burning through everything and and what couldn't afford to to stay in their apartment any longer eric is trying to pick himself up nowadays he's doing temporary
work and is saving up to be able to rent an apartment after her long day at work maria is back are you tired yeah yeah it's uh where i work is a little hard because i have to lift a lady she's very heavy back and forth back and forth but um nine hours is not it's uh it's a lot of hours but i'm okay thirsty my food my bed i'm ready to jump in my bed becomes very tired at half past nine at night the gates close from this point onward no more cars can enter the parking lot
at night there isn't a security guard there haven't been any attacks here to date but maria doesn't take any chances i close the door put the windows down like this much and put the alarm if somebody's trying to break in i will know i got my pepper spray and my hemai cutter somebody's trying to break in spray yeah because you never know that's it a few meters away eric is getting ready to spend another night in his car even though it's full to the brim the former
computer engineer will sleep sitting behind the wheel it's a world away from the comforts of his old life um one thing that i've really found out about this is that you know the typical stereotype of um you know the homeless person being lazy and not wanting to work or being a drug addict that may be the case in some places and some and some but the

people

i've come to in this program most of them are very hard working

people

that want to get ahead that either have some some health
issues or have some had a streak of bad luck or for whatever reason they've you know come into this this this situation some

people

are able to get out of it quickly some

people

take longer california is a state of stark contrasts despite being the fifth largest economy in the world a growing number of its workers can no longer afford a place to live but there is another state where the system is even more unforgiving that state is virginia right next to washington dc its capital richmond is
a former industrial city here a quarter of the population live beneath the poverty threshold of the ten major cities with the highest rates of eviction in the country half are located in virginia in richmond alone around 3 000 tenants are forced out of their homes every year the evictions are a routine job for officer loyal from the sheriff's office several times a week he distributes the dreaded yellow notices in the state of virginia the law is strict if the rent is laid by five days the
how poor people survive in the usa dw documentary
landlord has the right to begin the eviction process the threatened tenants have one week to settle their debts otherwise they face eviction by force and officer loyal does not show much sympathy this morning he and his colleagues have to evict the residents of this house sheriff's office and just like when arresting a dangerous criminal sheriff's office they enter the home with their guns drawn i'll take that okay sheriff's office the tenant is not currently at home and clearly
they've not had time to vacate the premises as for the landlord he immediately reclaims his property check everything i'm checking the windows now why to make sure the house is secure the tenant has arrived and is in shock she had been renting the house for seven years a single mother to a grown-up daughter she works but has frequently struggled to make ends meet she has to pick up her belongings the next day otherwise everything will go to the junkyard at her expense it's just
going to be easier on you like the vehicle that's in the backyard or whatever if you have it removed because if he has a tow company remove it then that's an added expense that you'd be looking at yeah that's fine i mean that's fine do you think all this is a little bit harsh do i think it's hard no he got to do what he got to do and i got to do what i got to do where are you going to sleep where am i going to sleep yeah i can sleep in the hotel if i need to yeah i can
yeah thank you so much have a good day she's immediately rendered homeless no room for negotiation this is the only way to make sure didn't move that's up to her if that's the only way she said she would move before this didn't move maybe maybe she had nowhere to go uh you know she never did say that to me there are around 10 evictions just like this one every day in richmond as a consequence of this fast-track justice budget hotels on the outskirts of the city have become a
refuge for those who've been kicked out of their homes some

people

stay there for a very long time among them is david a 38 year old gardener what's going on man singing all sam new day david has lived in this motel since his eviction two years ago at the weekend the divorced father's children come to stay over in his one-room home which cost him 1300 euros a month this is it man this is our bedroom living room family room every room this is the little kitchen which i cooked her eggs
last night and made hamburgers so i ain't cleaning the dishes yet you know we hung out played video games and um bathroom you know got a shower but um that's about all during the week david shares this single room which has packed with household utensils and personal possessions with his new partner is it not too hard to live for two years here oh man i'm like cramped you know like obviously if you put two

people

in the same room for a long enough time it's there's you're
gonna bump heads and have arguments and stuff his girlfriend has a stable job in the insurance business they could buy a bigger and less expensive apartment yet they remain trapped in this tiny room because their past eviction continues to haunt them but at the time she she was trying it first and then i'm like you get so beat down by going to places and stuff and them not they're not giving you a place because they're like oh you had an eviction um it's you know shows that you
didn't pay those just like two months or something like that and um it definitely was detrimental to it you know there was no way of getting anywhere it's almost unthinkable in many parts of the world but here landlords are able to access the past of bad tenants with a few simple clicks a systematic surveillance system that has been denounced by martin vic bright a lawyer and defense attorney for tenants so this database is a public database i mean anyone can go on to this database and
look at it and you can search by name so let's try a common a common american name here we go mary gillespie okay um there we go and you can see five unlawful detainers let's see ten years ago this tenant had a series of late payments despite being small amounts in this case under 300 they can have grave consequences so if i'm a landlord i can look at that and say well that was 10 years ago but i think she's too much of a risk i don't want to rent to her if anything bad
happens to you whether it's you know you get your hours cut back at work whether you break an ankle and you're off work for a month whether you got that car repair bill or that hospital bill or anything that just throws your budget off slightly you better catch up real quick or you're going to have a judgment of possession against you and get addicted so the tenant really is living under the sword of damocles david is far from an isolated case 6 300

people

are evicted across the u.s
every day in the city finding accommodation is the chief source of anxiety but there's a region where for some the main worry is simply being able to put food on the table welcome to rural america the appalachian mountains region that spans several states in the eastern part of the country appalachia was once widely known for its coal production these days almost all of the mines are closed it's often said that the american dream got lost somewhere along the way here the appalachia
region with a predominantly white population is home to some of the

poor

est counties in the entire country during the summer at lunchtime this food truck travels up and down the disadvantaged areas of roanoke lewis and stacy are two volunteers who give out free meals to children they serve up to 200 meals a day and every time they arrive they're eagerly awaited on today's menu a sandwich a carton of milk and a kiwi you are turkey in this family both parents are unemployed they receive 1
200 euros of welfare a month but as a family of five it's barely enough to live on well i try to get in at least two to three but towards the end of the month when the stamps run low save it i'll maybe eat one i'll eat it for example now we are at the end of the month yes i usually skip breakfast and lunch and uh or yeah breakfast and lunch and then i eat dinner so that's all i need to know yes being

poor

to the point of starving this reality is nothing new in the appalachia
region during his 1964 election campaign lyndon b johnson visited appalachia and was horrified by the poverty he saw after his re-election he launched a master plan to put an end to poverty today here and now declares unconditional war on poverty in america one of his ideas was to create food stamps coupons given free of charge to the

poor

to this day the government distributes these food stamps to 40 million american

people

in this mobile home park in the heart of appalachia the majority of
families benefit from this food aid with the american flag hanging from the front steps this is the mobile home of 58 year old cyrenia collins a former marine cyrenia no longer works following a long-term illness she receives a pension of 700 euros she faces a daily struggle to get by and her financial difficulties have gotten worse since she took in her niece jennifer is an unemployed single mother who has three children to take care of leah lindsey and jaden fortunately jennifer receives food
how poor people survive in the usa dw documentary
stamps every month on the first day um according to how many kids you have and your income they um put you know so much on there and i get every month on the first i'll get like 640 640 just to buy food just for food yeah 560 euros a month to feed five

people

a tight budget before going shopping the two women check the balance on their card cyrenia and jennifer can spend their food coupons in any supermarket like this discount store where they regularly go shopping once at the checkout the
food stamp card works just like any other credit card and in this store in appalachia they are by no means the only ones who use one how many

people

pay with food stamps here um probably half the

people

coming here it's a it's a it's a lot yeah yeah thank you donald trump plans to cut down on the amount of food stamp recipients critics say that risks making an already vulnerable society even

poor

er but ironically here they voted 80 in favor of trump and their support for him
continues seemingly unabated to earn a little extra cash cyrenia does household chores for her neighbors for a few dollars she also cuts james's hair he works in a mine and is a loyal trump follower i am a trump fan yeah i do support trump why because he's done everything he said he'd do um you know trump is willing to help other countries but his country comes first that's not happened in a long time donald trump is a billionaire donald trump keeps his family everywhere he goes
his children his wife are everywhere with him that tells you a lot about a person that unwavering support can be difficult to understand for outsiders because since trump's election everyday life for individuals in appalachia has not improved poverty is pervasive here and has led to some strange developments in the middle of the night in this small town dozens of cars enter a showground full ride over here right now if you'll turn right right here sold out okay i suggest that you be back
here about three or four o'clock well it kind of trips you out because it makes you think it's like it's everybody's lined up like you're going to a concert and you get there just keep your teeth drilled on or something you know what these

people

are gathering for here on mass is simply to see a doctor because every year here for a weekend all you're going to get in this line is medical only a non-profit organization arranges free consultations oh there is the huge need a
lot of their families in this area are the working class families they're struggling to choose between paying for medicine that can save their life or you know groceries for the week so it's it's a shame to have to to do it this way but you got to take care of your

people

and these are our

people

and this is the way we take care of our

people

we made it through even though the health care system improved under previous president barack obama 28 million americans remain without any
insurance coverage cyrenia has arrived with her family her niece jennifer and her three children they all need to see the dentist medical fees in the us are the most expensive in the world and unaffordable for a large section of the population so staying up all night seems like a small price to pay i mean you struggle to have medical assistance yeah it's not easy not easy but you have to do it absolutely the alternative is not a good thing so you have to the family arrived the night before
because here the rule is first come first served at six o'clock in the morning the doors open the organizers call our patients by their number 127. somebody's sound asleep in the car 128 so next time we'll call in groups of 20 again all right once inside the patients find themselves in a full-scale field hospital images reminiscent of a humanitarian disaster and yet this is modern day america here

people

are treated in turn by a host of volunteers nurses family doctors but also
specialists who are able to treat more complicated illnesses the most remarkable part takes place in this sport hall transformed into a gigantic dental care facility all day long 60 dentists scale drill fill and remove teeth as she surveys the scene cyrenia is overcome with emotion it's beautiful all the

people

volunteering and so many

people

getting help that need it before my sister passed away she had all her teeth taken out and she didn't have any teeth to replace him with and she
was younger than i am now and she was my older sister so i think about what she went through with health issues because of her teeth and they're important oh my god she'll be seen too by a young student soon to complete his medical degree before treating cyrenia he's had time to familiarize himself with the job are you numb up there right now how many tours did you extract today have you extracted um i've extracted about 15 to you today myself yeah so thank you so much yeah
pretty good day yeah it's pretty good there yeah he will spend a quarter of an hour removing cyrenia's tooth here's 16th of the day like i have a big mouth but there's no time to take a breather here cyrenia now proceeds to the locker rooms thank you for everything a dental prosthesis studio like the rest of the temporary facility it's run by volunteers and funded by donations nope lay head back just relax your lips relax first patients have dental impressions made in this
room and next door a new set of teeth is created in less than two hours sirenia can look forward to showing off her new smile here we go how's that feel awkward but okay oh my god you have teeth all the way back yeah you're welcome darling want a big smile cheers thank you you know that i can smile and feel it that's what i want that's what i need if the family had paid for all this treatment it would have cost them over three thousand dollars fortunately in the united states
there are

people

personally taking action to help those in need on the other side of the country a man has embarked upon a mission to combat the poverty that has plagued the sidewalks of his city a place usually associated with the rich and famous rather than the down and out this is los angeles los angeles and hollywood 38 year old elvis is appalled at how conditions in la have continued to deteriorate in recent years it's not a third world country it's one of the richest countries in
the world it's almost like a movie prop they don't it's hard to fathom that like every single day this is how

people

live los angeles the sprawling city of angels and the glamorous heart of hollywood cinema and yet today it is the homeless capital of america here in the last few years the number of

people

without a home has increased from 33 000 to 59 000 in the shadows of the city skyline is the dark side of the californian dream when i was a kid and lived here it was nothing like
it is now i left for almost two decades and i came back a few years ago and it just it just blows my mind it's just going to increase because uh every month the cost of everything keeps going up there's no regulation so uh you know apartment owners and landlords can raise the money you know the rent whenever they like but nobody's paychecks are getting bigger outraged by the growing destitution elvis gave up his job as a sales assistant he lives on the salary of his partner leah who
works at a university in this way elvis can devote all his time to helping those less fortunate a little further from downtown a woman has moved in beneath this bridge elvis and leah regularly pay her a visit all right baby has been living here for five years in a small tent that she shares with another woman they're desperately vulnerable to the dangers of the street and have already been assaulted several times well just look at it everywhere they just they just tore it right open and uh
now now she doesn't even have a door when she sleeps out here at night there's also no lights right under here so it's very dark and you know especially as a woman that's pretty damn scary even if a guy is it's scary because anybody can walk up in the dark walk right in do whatever they want to help these

people

elvis wants to do more than just bring them bottles of water his main project is hidden away in the yard of this church he came up with the idea to build small wooden
houses for the homeless they're very small but inside elvis and leah have thought of every last thing to improve the daily lives of these

people

window arms yes so what does it mean so if someone tries to open the window the alarm will go off this right here allows

people

to sleep when

people

sleep they can think they can do better they feel better they want better the house is also equipped with a fire alarm a light and a phone charger all of which are powered by a solar panel each cabin
costs the equivalent of a thousand euros financed by donations collected online but elvis well-meaning initiative is illegal the mayor of los angeles has banned him from installing his cabins on the sidewalks of the city elvis will carry on regardless this morning he's delivering one of them to a homeless couple who very much need it hey hi i'm elvis hi i'm krista nice to meet you this is our dog brownie hi brownie krista is a 32 year old and is three months pregnant she lives on the
curb of the sidewalk with her partner andre how are you god man i was i was hoping you weren't going to be gone though that's the mother bee for four years now the couple have been sleeping in this tiny cart that is a health hazard on wheels yeah man that's like bed bugging i mean eating meal eating me a lot man i could say you can everything all these little different marks man mostly not being able to have good hygiene elvis can't hang around the trick is to get this get this
done and off before the cops show up the tiny house weighs 400 kilograms but his project does not make everyone happy why don't you go back in your house and enjoy the air conditioning a neighbor expresses her discontent she's against this why she uh she doesn't want it in front of her house she's calling the police and so we need to hurry along and we'll pray that they are allowed to keep their house this is how it goes in los angeles a few days after filming the police
threatened to destroy the cabin unless elvis removed it he and the couple managed to move it onto privately owned land in the end the disgruntled neighbor got her way but we find

people

elsewhere trying to challenge the ostracization of homeless

people

in rather inventive ways our next stop is texas and the conservative city of waco it has around 50 churches serving its 120 000 residents here once a month a religious community organizes a curious program

people

come from all over the united
states to take part do you know what's gonna happen for you no no no no no for 24 hours these high school students are going to live eat and sleep in a role-playing scenario much like 20 or so other participants all from middle class backgrounds each of them has paid 60 euros to participate janet durrell came up with the idea 25 years ago with her husband a pastor the remarkable simulation project has so far had 30 000 participants the goal is to create compassionate care for humanity and
poverty everybody can get the american dream but when you're trapped in poverty in the cycles of poverty you have to have an advocate to get you out ladies you have 15 minutes janet darrell says in order to truly experience the life of a homeless person you have to start by looking like them in this second-hand store participants are encouraged to dress in appropriate clothes jeans and these little boots but i think that they'll keep the mosquitoes off of my ankles so that's i'm
happy about that right now it doesn't seem like too much of a challenge but things are going to get more complicated with the second stage sleeping out in the open albeit not in the streets but in a secured fenced off yard 53 year old marta however is slightly concerned you know i'm scared of bugs i'm scared of bugs she thought long and hard before signing up it was her husband who convinced her to take part it doesn't look like a real homeless situation right right yes yes it
doesn't smell like poop it doesn't smell like urine there's not rats running everywhere yeah no this is definitely luxury homelessness yeah yeah for sure in fact that is a comfort nonetheless although it won't be a very long night good morning everyone at six o'clock the next day janet durrell gives everyone a wake-up call and they don't look particularly well rested come on martha it's not a real homeless situation they're safe they're safer than being on the
street but this is not as safe as being in the home with their family so it just gives them a little bit more reality of what living in the environment does on your body so by tonight it takes about 24 hours to really start getting the idea that this this could be really rough for the next stage of the program the participants are sent to downtown waco their task today is to find something to eat on their own and without any money you can smell the food yeah so should we should i ask this guy
who can i cannot beg or solicit

people

at restaurants like in many other cities in the u.s begging is a punishable offence it's also forbidden to rummage through garbage bins oh there's no food in there city property and reclaiming anything at all from them is considered stealing in order to

survive

the homeless in waco are therefore forced to break the law our two participants are not going to find anything to eat and after two hours of walking the streets in 40 degrees heat marta feels
faint she calls her husband to pick her up but i feel like i feel like i'm too weak well like i'm kidding about yourself like i'm too old and fat and i can't do it you've learned something about yourself and what it would like what it would be like to be homeless at your age yeah and it'd be hard is the us truly ready to face up to poverty while the president claims america has never been so great 40 million of trump's fellow citizens are still caught in the clutches
of poverty you