The Enquirer this year launched a yearlong series, The Long, Hard Road, to tell the stories of people who live, work and struggle 80 miles in the heart of Greater Cincinnati.
The series is the centerpiece of a project called Prosperity Disparity, special reports that examine how financial difficulties are affecting our region. Kroger Co. subscribes to Prosperity Disparity. Learn about his efforts to reduce hunger across the country through his Zero hunger | Zero Waste Approach.
In Part One, we started our journey near Middletown and headed south on Ohio 4 through the northern suburbs of Cincinnati. Here we met the so-called new poor, people who once lived comfortably but have yet to recover from the Great Recession. Machinist forced to drive truck for lower pay after factory job cut. An asthmatic who delays medical treatment for fear of being absent from work and losing his job. A family living under the threatening cloud of a mortgage they can barely afford now.
► Dreams diverted: We set out to find out if we really recovered from the Great Recession. This is what we found.
In Part 2, the road took us inside the loop of Interstate 275, where a common thread sewed the stories we found: When you’re poor, everything costs more, in relative terms. We introduced you to a mother stretching out her cash while searching for clothes for her children at the Goodwill store in Woodlawn. We found refugees from Bhutan growing food for their families in a community garden established by St. Clare Convent in Springfield Township.
► The heavy price of having less: Being poor is expensive, at least relatively. The unrecognized costs of not having enough
In Part Three, the road crosses our urban core, where generational poverty shapes the 11 stories we share today. It’s a world where payday loans siphon hard-earned money, and petty criminal offenses – like those financially able people can mitigate with a good lawyer – trap working poor in low-paying jobs that don’t require no background check.
► Stuck that’s why the poor stay poor: Millions of poor Americans spend their lives working, but paltry wages, institutional barriers, and predatory loans work to keep the playing field level.
In the final installment of The Enquirer’s year-long series: Whatever the landscape, whatever the demographics, poverty is poverty. A hungry child must be fed, whether he lives in the city or in the country. Increasingly, the rural poor are lagging behind. Incomes are lower and poverty rates are higher in rural areas. It is more difficult to find a doctor or a dentist. And when businesses close in small rural towns, the options for the unemployed are often bleak.
► Hidden in plain sight:We venture into rural Kentucky where the struggle to stay in shape grows