In a country struggling with rampant unemployment and a disastrous foreclosure crisis, it is Florida that is today home to a third of America's homeless families. And a recent segment on CBS's 60 Minutes shows just how devastating that struggle can be for children and parents alike.
As a follow up to a story from eight months ago about families living in cheap motels due to the unemployment crisis, 60 Minutes reporter Scott Pelley returned to Seminole County, only to find that the situations of many have gotten worse, not better.
One such family, the Metzgers, has been living day-to-day in a truck for the past five months, using gas station bathrooms each morning to get ready before school, 60 Minutes reports. Nonetheless, the children recognize their situation isn't much different from that of many homeless kids in the Seminole County school system.
"When [other kids] see the truck they ask me if I live in it, and when I hesitate they kinda' realize. And they say they won't tell anybody," Austin told Pelley.
"Yeah it's not really that much of an embarrassment," his older sister ArieIle adds. "I mean, it's only life. You do what you need to do, right?"
Indeed, for many, the recovery of the last two years has been in name only, with the number of Americans living in extreme poverty only rising through last year. In September it was reported that 46.2 million in the U.S. now live in poverty. And that has subsequently been revised upward.
Just since the recession, 2.6 million children have entered into poverty, according to researchers from the Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire. That rise isn't unique to the financial collapse, however. Rates of child poverty rose in 38 states over the last decade, with around a quarter of young American children now living below the poverty line.
As the 60 Minutes segment reveals, the Metzgers are just one of many tragic stories in Florida. Another family, the Coates, lived in their car before finally finding room in a shelter, while eight-year-old Jade Wiley recounts being in the same situation before her family received community funds to move into a motel.
But despite the horrible conditions hope remains or as Pelley puts it, "the American dream is durable."