Transcript

Poor Kids

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Poor Kids (2017)

This is an updated program that originally aired Nov. 20, 2012.

January 2012

Moline, Illinois. BRITTANY: My name is Brittany Smith and I’m 9 years old. It’s tough because my mom and dad are poor. My dad just lost his job.

One day I tried getting in the shower, and it was cold. I put the hot on all the way and no cold, and it was freezing. It felt like shoving your face in a bunch of snow. It was freezing! The hot water shut off because we didn’t pay the bill in time. It was overdue.

DAD: Sucks.

MOM: So what’s the next bill due?

DAD: Electricity, going to be 318. We just need to put Roger’s ass to work.

MOM: Yeah! [laughs]

ROGER: When you see the flat-screen TV and the computers and our PS3 and stuff, that’s just things we’ve acquired over the years, stuff that we’ve had before we─ before all this happened, like when we were not this poor.

MOM: Sink’s broke. [laughs] I don’t know how or why, but it broke. And the cheapest plumber is, like, $65 an hour. I can’t even afford $20.

ROGER: We lived in a farmhouse. My dad lost his job from Picture Perfect. He got laid off, and we got kicked out of there. We moved here. It’s not very big. We didn’t have enough room so we had to put stuff in storage, and we lost it all because we couldn’t pay it.

BRITTANY: How storage works is, like, you put all your stuff in there when you move, but you have to pay the bill or else it gets thrown out on the street because they have a spare key. I don’t think it’s right because people shouldn’t throw other people’s stuff in the street because that’s just plain up rude.

I got a big make-up thing, and I lost it in storage. I got a Bratz doll. I lost it in storage. I lost my favorite teddy bear. I lost my DS. It was great. It was awesome. I’m bummed out because, like, that was my favorite thing in the world besides my family. [laughs]

DAD: Yeah, caliper’s shot. We got to get new pistons at least on it.

BRITTANY: My dad’s brakes on the truck isn’t working. One time, we almost got in a wreck. It sounded like nails on a chalkboard. I hate that sound.

When is the cable being shut off?

DAD: Soon. I owe them almost $200, the cable, the Internet, all that. We don’t have the money to pay it.

BRITTANY: What’re you doing?

DAD: Applying for a job.

BRITTANY: Have you applied to many places?

DAD: This will be the third Menard’s store I’ve applied at, Wal-Mart, the anchor place. Quite a few.

ROGER I hope that my dad will somehow miracle-ly get his truck working and get a good job so we’ll be able to get money to keep this house, hopefully, and not get kicked out.

[In 2012, more than 46 million Americans were living below the poverty line]

KAYLIE: My name is Kaylie Hegwood and I live in Stockton, Iowa.

Oh yay! That one was good! That one was good.

I am 10 years old and I live with my mother and my brother, Tyler, and he is 12 years old. I don’t think we’re a rich family, but like, I think we’re kind of a poor family.

I’m hungry.

BARBARA: I knew you were going to say that as soon as you─ you’re going to have to wait now, Sis.

KAYLIE: I’m just starving. We don’t get that three meals a day, like, breakfast, lunch and then dinner. When I feel just, like, hungry, I’ll just, like, I’ll feel, like─ like I’m so, like, sad and all droopy, and then I’ll be feeling, like, weak, and then, some in the mornings I’ll be, like, so starving, but then I’ll, like, be, like, Oh, I need some food, but then, like, I’ll get, like─ but then I don’t think of food, and then I’ll just think of something else and then I’ll not be hungry anymore.

TYLER: There’s good days and bad days. Sometimes when we have cereal, we don’t have milk. We have to eat it dry. Sometimes we don’t have cereal and we have milk. It’s often, like, switch and swap. Sometimes, like, when I switch the channel and there’s a cooking show on, I get a little more hungry and I want to vanish into the screen and start eating the food.

BARBARA: You can’t pull at Mom while I’m doing this.

KAYLIE: You’re pulling. How do you think you have customers?

BARBARA: [laughs] Customers!

KAYLIE: I don’t want you to fricking cut me.

BARBARA: I’m not going to cut you.

KAYLIE: You better not.

BARBARA: I’ve been in school long enough, I won’t cut you.

KAYLIE: Or you’re dead. I mean it.

KAYLIE: My mom, she has very little in her bank. And like, she can’t pay all of her bills at the same time.

BARBARA: My income is $480, or $1,480 and the total of my bills is $1,326. And that does not leave me money for food or gas. I’ve never seen it this bad.

KAYLIE: My best friend is Jordan and we grew up together. We like to go canning to make money.

Cans! With canning, I just walk around and look for cans. I walk─ I walk, like, around the whole town. The non-squished ones are 5 cents.

JORDAN: And the squished are 2.

KAYLIE: Yeah.

Some people come over here for gas, and it’s not here anymore. The dance hall, that’s broken. Train station─ that’s still up, but it’s all rotted and stuff.

Huh! Another crushed can!

In 2004 is when this shut down, and now look at it. It’s crappy. It used to be so special. Didn’t that used to be a movie theater?

JORDAN: What?

KAYLIE: That.

JORDAN: No.

KAYLIE: What did it used to be?

JORDAN: It was the old bank.

KAYLIE: Huh. I bet there’s old money in there.

JORDAN: I’m not going in there. The floor fell in.

KAYLIE: That would be awesome if there was, like─ like, thousands and thousands of dollars.

KAYLIE: Tyler! Those are ours. Drop them!

JORDAN: Kaylie.

KAYLIE: Drop them!

JORDAN: Kaylie?

KAYLIE: When we can’t afford to pay our bills, like, our house bills and stuff, I’m afraid, like, we’ll get homeless. Me and my brother will starve. You never know what’ll happen in your life, so yeah.

[The U.S. has one of the highest child poverty rates in the developed world]

JASMINE, Davenport Iowa: My name is Jasmine, and I am 9 years old and I live with my brothers Joshua, Jaylan and Johnny.

JOHNNY: My name is Johnny Davis. I am 13 years old, soon to be 14 in three months.

We are in the Salvation Army homeless shelter. My dad had got a business and he was making about a good $5,000 dollars a month. We had good and fancy things then. We had a─ like, a three-bedroom house. Our living room had a 32-inch flat screen TV in there. My mom’s and dad room had a 42-inch flat screen TV in their room. And that’s what TV we’d watch the Super Bowl on.

JASMINE: Those are eggs. Are you serious? Why would you bring that out here?

TOM: When it was good, it was good. I can remember having five or six jobs a month that were lined up back to back, and I mean decent-paying jobs ─ $4,000, $5,000, $7,000, whatever it was. And all of a sudden, just right about the time when everybody was saying, you know, the recession is coming about, the recession is coming about, people just plain old stop fixing on their houses, stopped making repairs.

JOHNNY: The payment on the house was due in, like, two weeks, and I guess my parents just didn’t have the money at the time because he was explaining to us business was slow, and we lost our whole house and everything. So we was back to ground zero. Then we moved to the homeless shelter. Anything that could fit in a bookbag or a suitcase, you could take it. Whatever. Like, this TV, the yellow one in the living room, that only made it because it could fit in my bag. If it couldn’t fit in my bag, that would’ve been left behind, too.

CLASSIE: We have to go. Hurry up and let’s go.

JASMINE: Hurry, hurry, hurry.

JASMINE: My dad works at a factory and we drive him there every day. In, in, in. The journey takes about two hours there and back. We have to go with our mom because the rules say that we couldn’t be left in the shelter by ourselves because we weren’t old enough.

JOHNNY: I thank God that he still has a chance and an ability to just still go out and get different jobs.

DAD: It’s not a career, something that I want to spend the rest of my working years doing, but it’s something that will provide for us to have some food.

CLASSIE: On the road again─ always driving, always.

TOM: I know this is tough driving out here every day. Here and back, there and back, there and back, there and back. It would be so much easier if you could go ahead and just grab us a place out here so you don’t have to make the trip back and forth. I look at that little house every time I ride past. That’s a nice one there.

JASMINE: Sometimes when I watch people who, like, walk into their house when we’re driving, I wish that sometimes, like, I had a house like those people.

TOM: Is it me, or does it seem like it gets further away every day?

[1 in 5 children lives in poverty]

JORDAN: Kaylie, what are you looking at? It’s loud!

KAYLIE: I would just like to go explore the world, but I’m never going to be able to do this because these days, everything is expensive. I watched one show where it said they’re raising the gas prices. And my mom can’t even afford gas. We have to be careful how we use our gas, how we use everything.

TYLER: A lot of times, I have to give my money up to buy groceries and buy gas for the car and lawn mower, for mowing other people’s lawns and─ I got $10 and I put in 6 of it for the gas and gave the rest to my mom for some food, and it’s kind of what I do with my money. I don’t think I’m going to do mowing for a living.

BARBARA: The bills here at the house is just too much for me to handle. And I seen a doctor last week for depression and she put me on some antidepressants and Xanax for my panic attacks.

Right now, there doesn’t seem to be a way out. So my only options are to give up my house and move my stuff into storage and move into the motel room. I mean, I don’t even know if I can find a job when I get out of school or if it’ll ever get any better. I’ll have to find day care for Kaylie. I mean, she’s 10, but still. Her and Tyler, they’re brother and sister. They fight. I’ll come home and one will be hanging from the ceiling fan and the other one’ll be God knows where. I’m scared.

KAYLIE: I don’t want to move. I like living here because my friends are nice to me. Like, I want to just stay put here. We won’t get to keep our dog Nala. It’s extra money, and we’re going to get rid of her. Like, I want to spend as much time with her, but then again, I want to spend time with my friends.

CAREN, River Bend Food Bank: And there might be a question about whether you get food stamps or not. We’re going to ask you for your name and your phone number─

BRITTANY: I think there’s a lot of people in America that need help with food because they’re poor or they’re either homeless or they’re both. We need food for our family. I’m hitting my growth spurt and I’m really hungry. My favorite food is Chinese food. I am craving that right now. You know what makes me mad? We can’t afford it.

[More than 21 million children received free or low-cost school lunches in 2012.]

FEMALE: Think we’re probably pretty good for 4th grade.

TEACHER: Wolfs aren’t ballerinas. I’ve seen a lot of things in my life.

INTERCOM: Mr. Jaquin?

TEACHER: Yes?

INTERCOM: If this a good time for you, would you like to send your students down to the Nutrition Club?

TEACHER: I’ll have them down there shortly.

BRITTANY: Nutrition Club is a bag of food that you get every Friday and you have to make last the whole weekend. They announce in class that you have to go down for Nutrition Club if you’re in it. You have to go to the office and you have to sign your name in for it, and then you go put it in your locker and then you go back to class.

FEMALE: Hey, good morning, Brittany.

ROGER: I was surprised by how things can change so fast. You can go from doing OK, not having to go hungry, to this, going hungry and having to pay all your bills and not being able to, on the verge of being homeless again.

MOM: That will fit you, and it’s cute. It’s pretty!

BRITTANY: We just found out my mom is pregnant. She’s like a whale. My dad’s been working. He’s been working for a week and he has $64 total.

JOSH: Definitely not a good time to have a baby, but I don’t believe in abortion and─

MOM: Or adoption. Financially, we’re going to be in a lot more trouble.

JOSH: Financially, we’ll be strapped.

MOM: Good Lord!

BRITTANY: Are you OK, Mom. Is the baby hurting you?

MALE: You going to be alive in 10 seconds?

MOM: Oh, my God, I’m having a hot flash.

BRITTANY: That’s just fanning you, Mother.

I think it will be difficult for the baby to grow up here because we don’t have a lot of money.

ROGER: I think the thing I miss the most from having all this happen is the Internet. I mean, people don’t realize what they have until it’s gone. And serious World of Warcraft withdrawal, man. [laughs] Because say in World of Warcraft, I am awesome. I’m a level 85 paladin, tank and healer. And in real life, I’m a 14-year-old boy with nothing going for him.

KAYLIE: Nala, she was, like, my dog. Like, she was, like, my favorite dog. And now we have to take her to the pound. We have to get rid of Nala but not Tanner. Nala’s so adorable. Like, if you if you had her, she would sleep on your bed and she would sleep on you. She’s, like, your little guard dog. We’re getting rid of my perfect little, lovey dog. Yes, Nala I hear you stressing out. I love you, Nala.

ANIMAL CENTER WORKER: Does she have any favorite toys or games?

KAYLIE: She needs lots and lots of bones. She’ll chew one in, like, an hour or so. She hates baths.

BARBARA: Oh, yeah. She doesn’t like baths. No. This is my animal lover.

WORKER: She’ll have to go into our isolation rooms since she hasn’t got any vaccinations yet. So she’ll be in an isolated area right now. All right, sweetie. Do you want the leash and collar back at all?

BARBARA: Just the leash.

KAYLIE: And the collar!

BARBARA: Why the collar? She can have it.

KAYLIE: Mom! Fine, meanie. I got it.

I thought we were getting a double bed.

BARBARA: And there’s no mini-fridge. Dang it! And there’s no microwave. OK, we have to ask them about that.

KAYLIE: Darn. I thought we were getting a double bed.

BARBARA: Well, we’re going to have to ask them about the mini-fridge.

KAYLIE: This is small.

BARBARA: It’s going to be small. Plain and simple, it’s going to be small.

KAYLIE: This is as big as my room.

CLASSIE: Yeah. Oh, here’s one of Tom’s old business cards.

Jaylan: Oh, yeah, I remember T&C.

CLASSIE: T&C, Tom and Classie.

JAYLAN: Yeah! [laughs]

JOHNNY: You don’t want a lot of people to find out that you live here because people will make fun of it and─ and it can really haunt you after a while. It starts─ you start to have no friends. People will tease you about it and stuff like that.

CLASSIE: You getting too big. You always want something extra.

JOHNNY: I don’t want nothing extra.

CLASSIE: Yes, you do. You want a phone.

JOHNNY: I have a phone!

CLASSIE: You want shoes.

JOHNNY: I’m not wearing no earth walkers outside. No, sir. Jordans and Nikes.

CLASSIE: Johnny, Nikes and Jordans are expensive.

JOHNNY: I know.

CLASSIE: Just for a name. That makes no sense. You need a job.

JOHNNY: Nike’s not expensive.

CLASSIE: Look, I’ve been buying Josh shoes after shoes after shoes. I can’t afford it. Now what, Wal-Mart? He got to take Wal-Mart. What else can I do? At least his feet not dragging the ground.

JOHNNY: There were some Jordan flip-flops in there for 30 bucks. Now, that’s a great deal, You cannot find no Jordan flip-flops, the brand new kind, for no 30 bucks. They’re probably not real.

CLASSIE: Is that a great deal, when I can go to Wal-Mart and buy my─ the shoes I’m wearing I got from Wal-Mart for $5.

JOHNNY: I’m talking about name brand stuff. That’s a good deal, Mama.

CLASSIE: My sandals are nice, right?

JOHNNY: If you closely─ if you listen to it, it’s a good deal.

CLASSIE $5. You want some of those, right? See that’s why I like y’all when y’all small. They, like─ they accept stuff. You’re getting too big. Your feet growing. You in grown people’s shoes now. Oh! Please stop growing! [laughs]

JASMINE: I’m embarrassed because I’m poor and because I live in a shelter. It makes me feel like I just wish I never lived here.

JOHNNY: There’s a kid at the school who looks─ dresses worser than me. But he has his own house, though. He got a house to call home. He don’t have to go sit down with thousands of people to eat dinner. He can run to his refrigerator and open it up. And I can’t do that. I have to wait to a certain time. And I have to eat because if I don’t eat, I will starve all night until the next morning.

DAD: Make sure you stay in line so I can get you a plate, OK?

JOHNNY: Yes. Yes, sir.

DAD: Stand right here, and as soon as she goes, Johnny, you go after Jasmine.

CLASSIE: As a mother, you always got different thoughts going through your head and mind and wishing that you could change things and wishing things was different. But what are you to do? You can’t keep beating yourself up about it, but at the same time, it’s just hard. Having a family is hard. Maintaining a family is hard. Keeping us indoors is hard.

JOHNNY: Hey, Ma and Daddy, guess what I got in my grades?

CLASSIE: What? Oh! Oh!

TOM: That’s good.

CLASSIE: One for the Willis team!

TOM: That saved you from 70 lashes, didn’t it. [laughs] So did you do good?

JOHNNY: I got 2 As, 2 Bs and 2 Cs.

TOM: Oh, wow.

CLASSIE: That’s what’s up, Johnny.

TOM: I’ll have to get you a skateboard.

JOHNNY: Grades is my only way out of here. If my grades are not good, I know I can’t go to universities like my dream is to go. I know if my grades are not good, I can’t play football like I want to. If I don’t succeed doing what I have to do in school and making good grades, I will fail. I’m going to live this life, of shelters, going through hard times, can’t feed my kids, trying to figure out where I’m going to lay my head every night.

KAYLIE: It’s all crunched up and there’s not much space. See? See? He takes up the hallway to go to the bathroom. We had much more space in the house.

Be right back. The cold stuff that needs to be freezed is in the sink. We don’t have a fridge. Just this sink is our fridge. Brush. We have to get ice mostly every day because it melts during night. When I struggle for money, there’s nothing to eat. All there is is cans of vegetables. So I’ve been eating vegetables. There’s really not enough food.

If I could change anything, it would be being poor. I really don’t want to be poor because then you can’t get─ because then how can you pay rent, how can you get food, how can you get a roof over your head if you’re going to be poor?

[Nearly half of kids with a single mom live in poverty.]

JOHNNY: All I want is to play football, but football is expensive. I can name a few of the items I need and want for my sports, but I just got to wait until the next time mama can afford it.

I’m 14. My life is almost over until I’m a grown man, and if I don’t have the opportunity to show somebody to play football, football won’t exist in four years from now. If I don’t get to play on the team this year, that dream is going to slowly start fading away. That’s what happens to some of the dreams of kids. They pertain to something, and they can’t afford it.

BRITTANY: It’s a boy! The baby’s a boy. I was really hoping for a little sister, but you know, you get what you get.

DAD: Went back to work for the company that I used to work for and they’re not doing the greatest, either. So I got maybe a week’s worth of work, and then they’re going to be closing up shop from this local office and only keeping one of the three branches open, you know? So it’s just temporary, but it’s something. Temporary fix to a long-term problem.

MOM: No more babies. I got my tubes tied after I had him. I love them and I wouldn’t mind having more, but we can’t afford it.

BRITTANY: The babies’ futures are going to be weird and messed up. Life is going to be hard because there’s hardly going to be any jobs left in the future or any money, and rich people will be poor, like you. You might get poor in the last few months. You never know.

KAYLIE: My mom can’t sign us up for school. My mom says that we’re going to go─ we’re going to get in school when we move into the trailer that we are getting.

BARBARA: The trailer is very livable. It has floors. We’re going to be redoing it.

TYLER: Am I going to have to crawl in with the snakes to get the pipes unfrozen?

BARBARA: No. No. It’s all─ that’s all taken care of

TYLER: The best thing to do is put hay bales around it.

BARBARA: I know. We’re going to get some of those and do that. But we’re going to be moving the trailer probably in a couple of summers. But that’ll be two years away because we have to have a two-year lease.

TYLER What? If we stay there two years.

KAYLIE: If I keep missing school, then I see my future poor, on the streets, in a box, not even, and asking for money everywhere, everybody, and then stealing stuff from stores and─ yeah. I don’t want to steal stuff. I don’t want to do any of that stuff. I want to get an education and a good job.

I believe that I’m going to get a perfect job that I like and that I want to do. People can’t stop you from believing in your own dreams.

NEWSCASTER: Barack Obama has been reelected, the 44th president. Listen to the crowd.

NEWSCASTER ─warning Chicago to expect dangerously cold temperatures and wind chills─

NEWSCASTER: The soaring price of gasoline now $3.67 a gallon─

NEWSCASTER: ─is now the largest U.S. city to file for bankruptcy─

NEWSCASTER: ─shelters to stay open 24 hours a day instead of the usual─

NEWSCASTER: ─struggling to find opportunity in the land that always promised it.

Pres. BARACK OBAMA: My fellow Americans, it has been the honor of my life to serve you─

NEWSCASTER: Donald Trump is the next president of the United States.

October 2017

KAYLIE: I’m Kaylie and I’m now 15, turning 16 in a month or so. I’ve moved to a trailer. Then I moved to a duplex and then I moved here. And we’ve been here for almost a year-and-a-half, two years.

KAYLIE: Ow! That actually hurt.

TYLER: I’m Tyler. I’m 18 years old now. I would still say we’re kind of stuck in a hole, but it’s─ it’s better than what it was before.

Mom─ she was working at night. She was on third shift, and they worked her, like, 40 hours, 50 hours a week at third shift so she was sleeping in the morning. If I didn’t wake up in time for school, I was late, and she couldn’t call me in. I racked up a couple hundred detentions. And I dropped out and stopped going to school, and they didn’t call my mom. They didn’t care. So I felt like they just kind of dropped me off, like a piece of trash almost.

KAYLIE: Bella─ oh my God. I’m so happy I got her. She cuddles with me, actually cuddles. She’ll sit there and lay on my chest all night. Bella, can I get underneath your chin? Are you going to let me?

KAYLIE: It’s important for me to have a dog because it’s kind of, like, therapy. Look up! Look up. Bella helps me feel safe. Everyone surrounding me is getting cancer. My grandma was diagnosed with mucosal melanoma cancer. My grandma─ she gives a lot. Without her, we wouldn’t have this house, my mom wouldn’t have her car, and like, I wouldn’t have a phone. We wouldn’t have anything without her.

TYLER: You could be put on your feet, but there’s always something putting you back to the ground and pulling you back. Well, there’s gravity, but there’s other things, too.

KAYLIE: My mom, she was then diagnosed with cancer. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

BARBARA: I was supposed to go to the specialist this week and schedule the surgery. But they won’t see me because they don’t accept Iowa Medicaid.

KAYLIE: It kind of makes me afraid. Like, when I get older, what’ll happen to me because my grandma and my mom got it. I’m bound to get it, maybe. Maybe if luck’s on my side, I won’t, but─

How long are you going to be out of work?

BARBARA: Well, it was supposed to be two months, a month to two months. Now it’s probably going to be closer to three, maybe four.

KAYLIE: Sometimes I’m not sad about things that happen. Sometimes I am. I think I’ve just gotten so used to bad things happening, I just don’t care anymore.

BRITTANY: I’m Brittany and I’m now 15 years old. My hair isn’t blond anymore because I dye it, which is one of my hobbies, I guess. I like, to do different stuff with my hair. And I like it, and I’m probably not going to stop until all of my hair is gone.

ROGER: Give me one of these ones.

I’m Roger and I’m now 19. I graduated high school a year-and-a-half early. I got a job. I’ve gotten a few different jobs. I’ve just been working, been working and sleeping.

CHRISTY: Zakkary [sp?], one─

ZAKKARY: Mommy. I’m playing.

CHRISTY: That’s not a toy. You see that? That’s germs. That’s gross. Put your chair back.

BRITTANY: My little brother Zakk turned 5. Zakk is autistic. To help him, we’ll count with him, and we’ll help him try to read and stuff like that.

CHRISTY: B is for?

ZAKK: Ball and bee.

CHRISTY: Yeah.

ROGER: I love that little guy, he’s so awesome. He’s helped pull the family together and definitely takes a lot of stress out of the day.

Here’s your dragon. I think my monster could kick your monster’s butt, dude. Well, dang!

BRITTANY: Middle school was filled with drama. And I hated it so much. People would bully me because I was poor. It distracted me from focusing on my grades because they would, like, pass notes and everything saying that I look ugly and that I needed money. My lowest point was getting expelled and getting held back. And my highest point was, you know, finally, like, graduating middle school. And I felt, like, super proud of myself. I like art and creativity because you get away from the real world. It just helps me a lot.

ROGER: It’s definitely gone up and down over the past five years. It was─ work’s unsteady. It’ll be going good for, you know, a week or two, a month, and then out of nowhere, all the bills pile up and we just can’t seem to find any money any way.

BRITTANY: I know that my parents try to make it less stressful for us, but Dad will come home with a really bad paycheck and then I’ll just, like, start doubting everything. We won’t be able to pay bills, is what I keep thinking. And I’m thinking that we’re not going to be able to pay rent. We’re going to be sitting on the streets or something like that, and just every time that happens, it pops up in my head. You know, being stressed out and everything is part of life.

STORE SALESMAN: What can I get for you?

JOSH: I just need to pick up these two shower doors and a storm door.

ROGER: My dad ─ he just recently got his job back at Lowe’s, and that’s when I started with them, too. I think I’ve gotten myself into the business to where it’s always going to be there, you know? People are always going to need sidings, and I always figured if this didn’t work out, build toilets. Everybody’s always going to need to take a crap. [laughs]

I never really thought that I’d still be at home, but I don’t make enough money to make it on my own.

I just think at this point in my life, I don’t need to be happy right now. I need to make everything I need to and get the ball rolling.

BRITTANY: Most kids around here, they do graduate high school, but hardly any of them ever go to college because, you know, college is expensive. I want to go to college because I feel like I could do better. But then other times, I get doubts of how─ like, you know, what if I get a bad job and end up like this with my kids?

[Today, 14 million children are living in poverty.]

JASMINE: I’m Jasmine and I’m 14, turning 15 in December.

Right now, we’re in a hotel because we’re waiting for my mom and dad to find us somewhere to live. Johnny is in Chicago with my grandma. I haven’t really heard from him since the last time that we saw him. I miss Johnny because he─ he listens and he was somebody that I could talk to.

CLASSIE: What you doing?

JAYLAN: Homework.

TOM: Homework?

JASMINE: The hardest parts for me were jumping from school to school. I’m not blaming it on this situation but─ my grades aren’t bad, but—but they’re not as good as they should be.

CLASSIE: So have they offered you tutoring, Jasmine?

JASMINE: Not in the classes that I need.

CLASSIE: Really?

JASMINE: They don’t help me with math.

CLASSIE: Well if you really need it and you really need to stay after school, then you can get the tutoring, Jasmine. I just got to come get you. OK?

JASMINE: I don’t think it’s my parents’ fault because they’re moving so we can have somewhere to stay and so we can be stable. For you to get a house, that takes time and work and money.

CLASSIE: It’s like a game of hurry up and wait. You waiting on answers to see when you can move or when you can get in or─

TOM: You could have one year where everything is fine but that next coming year, you catch a bad cold and it’s all over with.

CLASSIE: Yep.

TOM: And sometimes it means picking up and leaving, going somewhere to try and start over to try to get a better fit for your family.

JASMINE: I feel, like, with the parents that I have, it’s going to come eventually. Right now, he─ he cleans windows.

TOM: But the thing is, is that you make up in your mind, like I said, whether you’re going to survive or not. So I choose to go ahead and try to make an honest dollar.

JASMINE: People don’t know half of the stuff that he does to make sure that we’re stable and we’re OK. And he tries harder than people think.

JOHNNY: I’m Johnny. I’m 19 now. I moved with my grandmother to Chicago. My parents, they couldn’t stay stable and moving around a lot places, and I knew it was going to be a problem for me academically and as far as my life situation.

I guess I started hanging out with the wrong people. I ended up going to jail. When I went to jail that day, it was like, you’ve really fallen off. You let yourself fall off. You went from all this good stuff happening─ you─ you going to be, you know what I’m saying, a good football player. Scouts was coming to see me at practices, asking about me, wanting me to play on their team, to, now you smoking weed and you got locked up and all that.

It was just, just, like, a reality check to myself, like, you’ve really fallen off. You need to get back on track. And this was my wake-up call, I guess. I came up here to start over.

If you fall, you got to get up, dust it off and keep on going. That’s the only thing you can do, until you get to the top. I work for HMR Designs. It’s a party and wedding designing company, just working to this point until I enroll in school this spring.

When the spring come around, I could still end up going to the school I want to go to, which is Louisiana State University, going there and pursuing this football dream.

There we go. Come on. Oh, yeah. Let’s go.

You come check on me five years from now, I’ll be somewhere, playing for somebody’s team in the NFL. Everybody knows the American Dream─ oh, go to college, and go live your life. That’s all I want to do, living my dream and take care of my family. That’s it.

TYLER: I was sitting at home, so I was just, like, why am I just sitting here doing nothing when I could be finishing high school. I see how hard it is for my mom because she didn’t finish school. I think I started two days late but I was, like, I need to get in there and do it now. A lot of teachers have been telling me that ah it’s better late than never. But I’m right there at the edge of being too late! [Laughs]

KAYLIE: I’m going to laugh if he falls. Ready?

Told you!

JASMINE: I wouldn’t choose this life but it’s kind of showing me what can happen. I will take this experience and use it to make myself a better person by learning from it and knowing what not to do. My hope for the future would be to have a house with my own room and my own space but you can’t really have everything you want.

BRITTANY: If I have kids, I would not want them to be growing up, like, this. No matter what I go through, I’ll still, like, you know, want to try and try and try to be better.

KAYLIE: There’s probably been many children who’ve grown up in a poor household and became rich in the future which I believe I can. But it’s a 50/50 chance. But the most thing I’m afraid of is becoming, like, my mom. No offense, she tried her best, but I’m scared to death of becoming, like, her. Her financial situation and things that’s happened to her that affects how she acts. If I become, like, her then I don’t know. I’ll cross that bridge when I get there. I know it’s going to be really hard. But maybe someday in my future, I’ll graduate from college and push through life.

Poor Kids (2012)

BRITTANY: My name is Brittany Smith, and I'm 9 years old. It's tough because my mom and dad are poor. My dad just lost his job. That's kind of hard for us.

One day, I started getting in the shower and it was cold. I put— I put the hot on all the way and no cold, and it was freezing. It felt like shoving your face in a bunch of snow. It was freezing! The hot water shut off because we didn't pay the bill in time. It was overdue.

DAD: Sucks!

MOM: So what's the next bill due?

DAD: Electricity, going to be $318. We just need to put Roger's ass to work.

MOM: Yeah.

ROGER: When you see the flat screen TV and the computers and our PS3 and stuff, that's just things we've acquired over the years, stuff that we've had before we— before all this happened, like, when we were not this poor.

MOM: Sink's broke. [laughs] I don't know how or why, but it broke. And the cheapest plumber is, like, $65 an hour. I can't even afford $20.

ROGER: We lived in a farmhouse. My dad lost his job from Picture Perfect. He got laid, off and we got kicked out of there. We moved here. It's not very big. We didn't have enough room, so we had to put stuff in storage, and we lost it all because we couldn't pay it.

BRITTANY: How storage works is, like, you put all your stuff in there when you move, but you have to pay the bill or else it gets thrown out on the street because they have a spare key. I don't think it's right because people shouldn't throw other people's stuff in the street because that's just plain up rude.

I got a big make-up thing and I lost it in storage. I got a Brats doll. I lost it in storage. I lost my favorite teddy bear. I lost my DS. It was great! It was awesome! I'm bummed out because, like, that was my favorite thing in the world besides my family.

DAD: Yeah, caliper's shot. We got to get new pistons, at least, on it.

BRITTANY: My dad's brakes on the truck isn't working. One time, we almost got in a wreck. It sounded like nails on a chalkboard. I hate that sound!

When is the cable being shut off?

DAD: Soon. I owe them almost $200. The cable, the Internet all that, we don't have the money to pay it.

BRITTANY: What you doing?

DAD: Applying for a job

BRITTANY: Have you applied to many places?

DAD: This will be the third Minard's store I've applied at, Wal-Mart, the Anchor Place, quite a few.

ROGER: I hope that my dad will somehow miraclely get his truck working and get a good job so we'll be able to get money to keep this house, hopefully, and not get kicked out.

KAYLIE: My name is Kaylie Hegwood and I live in Stockton, Iowa.

[Doing cartwheels] Oh, yay! That one was good! That one was good.

I am 10 years old, and I live with my mother and my brother, Tyler. And he is 12 years old. I don't think we're a rich family but, like, I think we're kind of a poor family.

I'm hungry.

BARBARA: I knew you were going to say that as soon as you— you're going to have to wait, Sister.

KAYLIE: I'm just starving. We don't get that three meals a day, like, breakfast, lunch and then dinner. When I feel just, like, hungry, I'll just, like— I'll feel like— like, I'm so, like, sad an all droopy. And then I'll be— feel, like, weak and then some in the mornings, I'll be, like, so starving. But then I'll, like, be, like, Oh, I need some food! But then, like, I'll get, like— but then I don't think of food, and then I'll just think of something else and then I'll not be hungry anymore.

TYLER: There's good days and bad days. Sometimes when we have cereal, we don't have milk. We have to eat it dry. Sometimes we don't have cereal and we have milk. It's often, like, switch and swap. Sometimes, like, when I switch the channel and there's a cooking show on, I get a little more hungry and I want to vanish into the screen and start eating the food.

BARBARA: You can't pull at mom when I'm doing this.

KAYLIE: Stop pulling!

BARBARA: I'm sorry.

KAYLIE: How do you think you have customers?

BARBARA: Customers! [laughs]—

KAYLIE: I don't want you to fricking cut me!

BARBARA: I'm not going to cut you.

KAYLIE: You better not!

BARBARA: I've been in school long enough, I won't cut you.

KAYLIE: Or you're dead. I mean it.

My mom, she has very little in her bank. And like, she can't pay all of her bills at the same time.

BARBARA: My income is $1,480 and the total of my bills is $1,326. And that does not leave me money for food or gas. I've never seen it this bad.

KAYLIE: My best friend is Jordan and we grew up together. We like to go canning to make money. With canning, I just walk around, look for cans. And I walk— I walk, like, around the whole town. The non-squished ones are 5 cents

JORDAN: And the squished are 2 cents.

KAYLIE: Some people come over here for gas, and it's not here anymore. The dance hall— that's broken. Train station— that's still up, but it's all rotted and stuff.

Oh, another crushed can!

In 2004 is when this shut down, and now look at it. It's crappy.

It used to be so special. Didn't that used to be a movie theater?

JORDAN: What?

KAYLIE: That.

JORDAN: No.

KAYLIE: What did it used to be?

JORDAN: It was the old bank.

KAYLIE: I bet there's old money in there.

JORDAN: I'm not going in there! The floor fell in.

KAYLIE: That would be awesome if there was, like— like, thousands and thousands of dollars.

Tyler! Those are ours! Drop 'em!

JORDAN: Kaylie! Kaylie!

KAYLIE: When we can't afford to pay our bills, like, our house bills and stuff, I'm afraid, like, we'll get homeless and me and my brother will starve. You never know what'll happen in your life, so— yeah.

JASMINE: My name is Jasmine and I am 9 years old, and I live with my brothers Joshua, Jaylan and Johnny.

JOHNNY: My name is Johnny Davis. I am 13 years old, going to be 14 in three months.

We are in the Salvation Army homeless shelter. My dad had got a business and he was making about a good $5,000 a month. We had good and fancy things then. We had, like, a three-bedroom house. Our living room had a 32-inch flat-screen TV in there. My mom's and dad's room had a 42-inch flat-screen TV in their room. And that's what TV we'd watch the Super Bowl on.

CHILD: Those are eggs? Are you serious?

CHILD: [eating egg] Yeah!

CHILD: Why would you bring that out here?

CHILD: Because.

TOM: When it was good, it was good. I can remember having five or six jobs a month that were lined up back to back, and I mean decent paying jobs, $4,000, $5,000, $7,000, whatever it was. And all of a sudden, just right about the time when everybody was saying, you know, the recession is coming about, the recession is coming about, people just plain old stopped fixing on their houses, stopped making repairs.

JOHNNY: The payment on our house was due in two weeks, and I guess my parents just didn't have the money at the time because he was explaining to us business was slow. And we lost our whole house and everything, so we was back to ground zero.

Then we moved to a homeless shelter. Anything that could fit in a book bag or a suitcase, you could take it. Whatever, dude. Like, this TV, the yellow one in the living room, that only made it because it could fit in my bag. If it couldn't fit in my bag, that would've been left behind, too.

MOM: We have to go. Hurry up and let's go.

JASMINE: Hurry, hurry, hurry!

JASMINE: My dad works at a factory and we drive him there every day.

In, in, in, in, in!

The journey takes about two hours there and back. We have to go with our mom because the rules say that we couldn't be left in the shelter by ourselves because we weren't old enough.

JOHNNY: I thank God that he still has a chance and an ability to just still go out and get different jobs.

TOM: It's not a career or something that I want to spend the rest of my working years doing, but it's something that will provide for us to have some food.

I know this is tough driving out here every day. There and back, there and back. It'd be so much easier if you could go ahead and just grab us a place out here, so you don't have to make the trip back and forth. I look at that little house every time I ride past. That's a nice one there.

JASMINE: Sometimes, when I watch people who, like, walk into their house when we're driving, I wish that sometimes, like, I had a house like those people.

TOM: Is it me, or does this seem like it gets further away every day?

JORDAN: Kaylie, what are you looking at? [train goes past]

KAYLIE: It's loud!

I would just like to go explore the world, but I'm never going to be able to do it because these days, everything is expensive. I watched one show where it said they're raising the gas prices, and my mom can't even afford gas. We have to be careful how we use our gas, how we use everything.

TYLER: A lot of times, I have to give my money up to buy groceries and buy gas for the car and lawn mower for mowing other people's lawns. And I got $10, and I put in $6 of it for the gas and gave the rest to my mom for some food. And it's kind of what I do with my money. I don't think I'm going to do mowing for a living.

BARBARA: The bills here at the house is just too much for me to handle. And I seen a doctor last week for depression and she put me on some antidepressants and Xanax for my panic attacks. Right now, there doesn't seem to be a way out. So my only options are to give up my house and move my stuff into storage and move into the motel room.

I mean, I don't even know if I can find a job when I get out of school or if it'll ever get any better. [weeps] I'll have to find day care for Kaylie. I mean, she's 10, but still. Her and Tyler— they're brother and sister— they fight. [laughs] I'll come home and the one will be hanging from the ceiling fan and the other one will be God knows where! I'm scared.

KAYLIE: I don't want to move. I like living here because my friends are nice to me. Like, I want to just stay put here. We won't get to keep our dog, Nala. It's extra money, and we're going to get rid of her. Like, I want to spend as much time with her, but then again, I want to spend time with my friends.

JORDAN AND KAYLIE: [practicing cheers] Go, go! Fight, fight! Win, win! Go, go, fight, fight, win!

KAYLIE: When I'm dancing, I'm mostly happy. It's like I'm in a different world. I'm always dancing non-stop. I just love dancing. I'm just truly in love with dancing. It's, like, my destiny to become, like, a famous dancer or a famous cheerleader. I feel like it's my destiny.

FOOD BANK WORKER: And then, like, your question about whether you get food stamps or not. We're going to ask you for your name and your phone number—

BRITTANY: I think there's a lot of people in America that need help with food because they're poor or they're either homeless or They're both. We need food for our family. I'm hitting my growth spurt, and I'm really hungry. My favorite food is Chinese. I'm craving that right now. You know what makes me mad? We can't afford it.

NUTRITION CLUB WORKER: Oh, we got variety here now.

NUTRITION CLUB BANK WORKER: Oh, they just flip them. They flip the cereal. It gets them all excited. [laughs] “I want that one!”

TEACHER: Once you change the plot— you first change the plot, she makes the wolf wear a tutu. Wolves aren't ballerinas. I've seen a lot of things in my life—

INTERCOM: Mr Cakelin?

TEACHER: Yes?

INTERCOM: If this a good time for you, would you like to send your students down to the Nutrition Club?

TEACHER: I'll have them down there shortly.

INTERCOM: Thank you.

TEACHER: Thank you very much. Great. What I need us to do— my Nutrition Club students, go ahead and stand up, push your chairs up, line up. I'll send you down there in just a moment.

BRITTANY: Push your chairs up?

TEACHER: Yeah, push your chairs in.

BRITTANY: Nutrition Club is a bag of food that you get every Friday and you have to make last the whole weekend. They announce in class that you have to go down for Nutrition Club if you're in it. You have to go to the office and you have to sign your name in for it. And then you go put it in your locker, and then you go back to class. Poor people get Nutrition Club because they can't afford to get other food.

NUTRITION CLUB WORKER: They should be down pretty soon. Shouldn't take them long.

Hi. Good morning, Britney. How are you doing?

BRITTANY: Is Monica in the Nutrition Club yet?

NUTRITION CLUB WORKER: Not yet, honey. She's on our list, though. She on our waiting— she's towards the top, but she's there.

NUTRITION CLUB WORKER: We'll work on it, OK?

NUTRITION CLUB WORKER: Hey, make sure you put it in your lockers right away, OK?

ROGER: I'm surprised by how things can change so fast. You can go from doing OK, not having to go hungry, to this, going hungry and having to pay all your bills and not being able to, on the verge of being homeless again.

JOSH: What're you doing?

MOM: Trying to win something. You got to match the coupons with the pictures. They'll probably give you just enough to where you think you're going to win, and then you don't.

Hey, Josh, how much did the pizzas cost?

JOSH: I think it was five of them for 10 bucks. They taste like it, too.

BRITTANY: Mom, I found a match!

Instead of eating fruits and vegetables, we eat pizzas and stuff because that's all we can afford. Fruits and vegetables are more expensive than pizzas. We last had fruits and vegetables a few weeks ago because we had the money then.

MOM: Instant winner. Oh, I got a free donut.

BRITTANY: It's true, if you have a bad diet, then it makes you look fatter. Sometimes I yell at myself because I'm disappointed in myself because people tease me for the way I look.

Pizza again? No, I'm just joking.

MOM: I'd love if it was a steak or shrimp or lobster.

BRITTANY: Don't bring that up!

MOM: Do you know what? If you use your imagination, it almost tastes like it. Take a bite of a big, fat piece of juicy steak. Didn't work. [laughter]

BRITTANY: My mom can't work and my mom can't drive and my mom's sick.

MOM: When I get really stressed out, I go into episodes. They're like seizures. And I end up in the hospital, and they said my body tries to shut down because I can't handle stress. It gets worse every time. And they said that it would eventually end up killing me.

BRITTANY: I worry about her a lot. It is hard feeling like you're going to lose your mother.

MOM: If I wasn't like this, things would be different. If I could work or drive, we'd have more money. Them seeing the way that I am, with stress and everything, doesn't really help them because I don't want them to grow up not knowing how to deal with it, either. And it scares me to even have to think about that because I don't want them to be like me at all. [weeps] I want my kids to be better than me.

KAYLIE: Nala— she was, like, my dog. Like, she was like my favorite dog. And now we have to take her to the pound. We have to get rid of Nala but not Tigger.

Nala's so adorable. Like, if you if you had her, she would sleep on your bed and she would sleep on you. She's like your little guard dog. We're getting rid of my perfect little lovey dog. Yes, Nala, I hear you stressing out.

[writing on window] I love you, Nala.

ANIMAL CENTER WORKER: Does she have any favorite toys or games?

KAYLIE: She needs lots and lots of bones. She'll chew one in, like, an hour or so. She hates baths!

BARBARA: Oh, yeah. Doesn't like baths. This is my animal lover.

ANIMAL CENTER WORKER: She'll have to go into our isolation rooms since she hasn't got any vaccinations yet. So she'll be in an isolated area right now. Do you want the leash and collar back at all?

BARBARA: Just the leash.

KAYLIE: And the collar!

BARBARA: Why the collar? She can have it.

KAYLIE: Mom! Meanie! [cries]

I thought we were getting a double bed.

BARBARA: And there's no mini-fridge. Dang it! And there's no microwave. OK, we have to ask them about that.

KAYLIE: Darn. I thought we were getting a double bed.

BARBARA: Well, we're going to have to ask them about the mini-fridge.

KAYLIE: This is small.

BARBARA: It's going to be small. Plain and simple, it's going to be small.

KAYLIE: This is as big as my room.

JASMINE: You took off with all of my tapes!

CLASSY: What type of animal is the North America roadrunner?

JOHNNY: D, a bird.

CLASSY: Correct. You should know that off the cartoons.

JOHNNY: Yeah.

CLASSY: We're missing lunch.

JOHNNY: You don't want a lot of people to find out that you live here because people make fun of it. And you know, it can really hurt you after a while. It starts— you start to have no friends. People tease you about it and stuff like that.

JASMINE: I'm embarrassed because I'm poor and because I live in a shelter. It makes me feel like I just wish I never lived here.

JOHNNY: There's a kid at the school who looks— dressed worser than me. But he has his own house, though. He's got a house to call home. He don't have to go sit down with thousands of people to eat dinner. He can run to his refrigerator and open it up. And I can't do that. I have to wait until a certain time. And I have to eat because if I don't eat, I will starve all night until the next morning.

TOM: Make sure you stay in line so you can get your plate, OK?

JOHNNY: Yes. Yes, sir.

TOM: Stand right here, and as soon as she goes, Johnny, you go after Jasmine.

CLASSY: As a mother, you always got different thoughts going through your head and mind and wishing that you could change things and wishing things was different, but what are you to do? You can't keep beating yourself up about it, but at the same time, it's just hard. Having a family is hard. Maintaining a family is hard. Keeping us indoors is hard. _[weeps]I

JOHNNY: Why don't you just lay them out right there? Chill, Jasmine.

JASMINE: Why would you do that?

JOHNNY: It's to open up the boxes.

JASMINE: Open them with your hands!

JOHNNY: No, it's taped. That's taped hard. Jasmine, no!

JASMINE: When you live in a shelter, you have to obey by the rules and do your chores. And if you don't, you get a write-up. And if you get over eight write-ups or— or you get put out.

JOHNNY: Hey, Mom and Daddy. Guess what I got on my grades?

CLASSY: What? Ooh! Ooh!

TOM: That's good!

CLASSY: One for the Willis team!

TOM: That saved you from 70 lashes, didn't it? [laughter] So did you do good?

JOHNNY: I got 2 As, 2 Bs and 2 Cs

TOM: Oh, wow.

CLASSY: That's what's up, Johnny!

TOM: I'll have to get you a skateboard.

JOHNNY: Grades is my only way out of here. If my grades are not good, I know I can't go to universities, like my dream is to go. I know if my grades are not good, I can't play football like I want to. If I don't succeed doing what I have to do in school and making good grades, I will fail. I'm going to live this life, life of shelter and going through hard times, can't feed my kids, trying to figure out where I'm going to lay my head every night.

KAYLIE: Living in a motel is like— like, it's cool, but then not so cool. There's no friends, no one to play with. I miss Jordan. I pass the time by watching TV or talking to Alex, helping him do the laundry and then putting stickers on the cards.

KAYLIE: Oh, it's hot in here!

ALEX: There is new people came in room number 124, like you. And they have kids about your age.

KAYLIE: Are you sure?

ALEX: Yeah. You check them out.

KAYLIE: 126?

ALEX: 124

KAYLIE: How many families live here?

ALEX: Here it depends. Sometime peoples come for a weekly stays, sometimes for you guys, like, right? So in summer— in winter, there is more people for the extended stays who are homeless. And in the winter, the shelters, them are all filled up, so— people can't sleep outside.

KAYLIE: It's all crunched up and there's not much space. [kicks Tyler sleeping on the floor] See? See? He takes up the hallway to go to the bathroom.

We had much more space in the house. The cold stuff that we need to be freezed is in the sink. We don't have a fridge, just this sink is our fridge. We have to get ice mostly every day because it melts during night.

When I struggle for money, there's nothing to eat. All there is, is cans of vegetables. So I've been eating vegetables. There's really not enough food.

If I could change anything, it would be being poor. I really don't want to be poor because then you can't get— because then how can you pay your rent? How can you get food? How can you get a roof over you head if you're going to be poor?

BRITTANY: We just found out my mom is pregnant. She's like a whale. My dad's been working. He's been working for a week, and he has $64 dollars.

JOSH: Definitely not a good time to have a baby, but I don't believe in abortion and—

MOM: Or adoption. Financially, we're going to be in a lot more trouble.

JOSH: Yeah, financially we'll be strapped.

MOM: Good Lord!

BRITTANY: Are you OK, Mom? Is the baby hurting you?

ROGER: You going to be alive in 10 seconds?

MOM: Oh, my God. I'm having a hot flash!

BRITTANY: I think it would be difficult for the baby to grow up here because we don't have a lot of money.

[opening Nutrition Club package] Toasted oats, Cheerios, apple sauce, some fruit, milk, beef stew, beef lasagna.

We don't have the money to buy diapers for it and food for it. And the good part is that my mom is happy, like, my family's happy. I don't really care if I'm happy or not. I just care if my family's happy.

MOM: We always manage, don't we? You know why?

BRITTANY: Why?

MOM: We're survivors. Struggle, survive and smile.

BRITTANY: How can we smile when we struggle and survive?

MOM: Because it helps us from going insane. [laughs]

BRITTANY: No, that makes us insane.

MOM: Makes you insane when you give up. But you're never going to give up, are you.

BRITTANY: No. No, ma'am.

MOM: Keep going, keep going. And if you feel like you've had enough and you want to quit, that's when you push yourself more, make yourself do it.

ROGER: I think the thing I miss the most from having all this happen is the Internet. I mean, people don't realize what they have until it's gone. And serious World of Warcraft withdrawals, man? [laughs] Because, say, in World of Warcraft, I am awesome. I'm a level 85 Paladin. Tank and healer. And in real life, I'm a 14-year-old boy with nothing going for him.

BARBARA: Kaylie, want to move stuff to the other house? Hey!

KAYLIE: OK. I know. I said yes!

KAYLIE: I'm looking forward to moving away from here because I really do not want to live here because you don't have space.

BARBARA: Kaylie! Kaylie!

TYLER: Kaylie, just wait. I'll do it. I don't want to hear you whining.

BARBARA: Go in there and pick up all the stuff in that sink over there.

KAYLIE: Oh, my God! I've got to pack my toys! Bad enough that I left my toys at the frigging other house.

BARBARA: Kaylie, I'm getting claustrophobic. Can't do this. It's 11:15! Trash. You going to take it to the dumpster? Go. Jesus!

KAYLIE: She is one crazy mom. She's tiring. She really needs work on the yelling. I don't care if she hears this because she needs to work on her yelling.

When we're moving, she says she's going to do it happily. I want to scream. I'm going to explode.

[to dog] Hey, Tanner, let's go and look at our new house. I mean, come on. Let's go upstairs! There Mom's room. How can you do this up all these stairs? Come on, Tanner! And here's my room! What are you doing? I'm going to have to put a rug over that. Come on, Tanner!

At my new home, I kind of like it and I kind of don't. I mostly sleep on the floor. It would be more comfortable with a bed. _[laughs] There's really nothing to do, just fold my clothes, mess them all up, fold them, mess them all up, fold them, or clean. But there's not much to clean but the kitchen, so—

Some kids have large houses. They can have whatever they want. But I think my mom, she kind of make a wrong turn or something. So that's what all started this.

CLASSY: This is a family of six.

FOOD PANTRY WORKER: You have your ID and a piece of mail?

CLASSY: Yes, ma'am.

FOOD PANTRY WORKER: Have you been here?

CLASSY: No, ma'am. Never. I was staying in a shelter at the Salvation Army on the second floor. And when you move out and go to transitional housing, which is upstairs, you have to get everything on your own. So food and household needs and everything else.

FOOD PANTRY WORKER: So that's what led you here?

CLASSY: Yes, ma'am.

FOOD PANTRY WORKER: OK.

JASMINE: We are in our new apartment, in transitional housing. My mom says it's harder because she has to spend a lot of money to feed us and to spend a lot of money to get the house together and, like, buy stuff.

CLASSY: You're getting too big. You always want something extra.

JOHNNY: I don't want nothing extra.

CLASSY: Yes, you do. You want a phone, you want shoes.

JOHNNY: I've got a phone. I'm not wearing no earthwalkers outside. No, sir. Jordans and Nikes.

CLASSY: Johnny, Nikes and Jordans are expensive.

JOHNNY: I know.

CLASSY: Just for a name. That makes no sense. You need a job.

JOHNNY: Nikes are not expensive.

CLASSY: Look, I've been buying Josh shoes after shoes after shoes. I can't afford it. Now what, Wal-Mart? He got to take Wal-Mart. What else can I do? At least his feet not dragging the ground.

JOHNNY: There were some Jordan flip-flops in there for 30 bucks. Now, that's a great deal. You cannot find no Jordan flip-flops, the brand-new kind, for no 30 bucks. They're probably not real. But guess what?

CLASSY: That's a great deal? When I can go to Wal-Mart and buy my— the shoes I'm wearing, I got from Wal-Mart for $5.

JOHNNY: I'm talking about name-brand stuff. That's a good deal, Mama!

CLASSY: My sandals are nice, right?

JOHNNY: If you closely— if you listen to it—

CLASSY: $5.

JOHNNY: It's a good deal.

CLASSY: See, that's why I liked y'all when y'all small. They like— they accept stuff. You're getting too big. Your feet growing. You in grown people's shoes now. Oh! Please stop growing! [laughs]

JOHNNY: We had more money in the shelter part than we had here because now everything is all on our own now. Down there, we took everything for granted. You can get free food every day. You got a free place to live.

CLASSY: For Josh's birthday next week— oh, here's one of Tom's old business cards.

JAYLEN: Oh, yeah. I remember T&C.

CLASSY: T&C, Tom and Classy.

It was me and him all the time. I know we lost a lot with the business. Me and Tom every day putting our heads together, trying to think about what else can we do to get ourselves out of this, see what we can come up with to make some extra money so we wouldn't be in a hole all the time or just barely trying to find food.

I mean, I would think at least everybody in America can have some food and housing— the poorest man, a place to sleep and food. And it's not that way. It's a little rough. A lot rough.

JOHNNY: All I want is to play football, but football is expensive. I can name a few of the items I need and want for my sports, but I just got to wait until the next time Mama can afford it.

I'm 14. My life is almost over until I'm a grown man. And if I don't have the opportunity to show somebody to play football, football won't exist in four years from now. If I don't get to play on the team this year, that dream is going to slowly start fading away. That's what happens to some of the dreams of kids. They pertain to something, and they can't afford it.

BRITTANY: My dad is trying to make a room in the garage for my mom and dad, for him and my mom so we have room for the baby. It's a boy. The baby's a boy. I was really hoping for a little sister, but you know, you get what you get.

JOSH: Went back to work for the company that I used to work for, and they're not doing the greatest, either. Say I got maybe a week's worth of work, and then they're going to be closing up shop from this local office and only keeping one of the three branches open, you know? So it's just temporary. But it's something. Temporary fix to a long-term problem.

MOM: No more babies. I got my tubes tied after I had him. I love him and I wouldn't mind having more, but we can't afford it.

BRITTANY: The baby's futures are going to be weird and messed up. Life is going to be hard because there's hardly going to be any jobs left in the future or any— any money, when rich people will be poor and— like you. You might get poor in the last few months. You never know.

KAYLIE: We're back in this motel again because we got kicked out of the duplex because. My mom didn't pay the rent. And so then we went to Motel 6, and then we went to this Twin Bridges hotel, and then we went to here. Oh, God, we went to so many places, even talking about it is making me dizzy. [laughs]

TYLER: [at washing machine] Come on. It's overfilled, Kaylie. Look, it's not going in.

KAYLIE: Oh, well. Move. I can make it work. Yes, it will! Yes, I do need that.

We've been moving around a lot, between Iowa and Moline, that my mom can't sign us up for school.

Why can't I go to school?

BARBARA: I would get you in school, but we got to wait until we get the trailer, which is only, like, a few days away. So there's no sense in putting you into school here if you're going to be switching to Iowa over there.

KAYLIE: OK.

If you go to school, and then, like, one or two weeks, you're going to have to move, but then you have to move from all your new friends, all your teachers when you have such a good time. And so my mom says that we're going to go— we're going to get in school when we move into the trailer that we are getting.

BARBARA: The trailer, it is very livable. It has floors. We're going to be redoing it.

TYLER: Am I going to have to crawl in with the snakes to get the pipes unfrozen?

BARBARA: No.

TYLER: The best thing to do is put hay bales around it.

BARBARA: I know. We're going to get some of those and do that. But we're going to be moving the trailer probably in a couple of summers. But that'll be two years away because we have to have a two-year lease.

TYLER: If we stay there two years.

KAYLIE: If I keep missing school, then I see my future poor, on the streets, in a box, not even, and asking for money everywhere, everybody, and then stealing stuff from stores. And yeah, I don't want to steal stuff. I don't want to do any of that stuff. I want to get an education and a good job. I believe that I'm going to get a perfect job that I like and that I want to do.

People can't stop you from believing in your own dreams.

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