Итак, рента 2х-спальной квартиры в графстве Чарльза стоит в среднем $1,200 в месяц. Чтобы такое себе позволить, надо иметь доход не менее $60,000 в год после вычета налогов (имея 4х детей, нереально тратить на ренту больше четверти дохода). Работая клерком за 7 баксов в час, это абсолютно недостижимо. Снять квартиру поменьше? Тоже недостижимо, т к прайс-брейк не так уж велик. Уехать туда, где жилье дешевле? Так там и работу не найти, т к желающих работать официантами и клерками в депрессивной мэрилендской глубинке более, чем достаточно. Подрабатывать, типа "мыть подъезды?" Нереально, т к подобные работы давно уже делают иммигранты за гроши. Здоровье потеряешь, денег не заработаешь, а главное, дети все равно оставлены одни. Субсидированное жилье? Очередь в 2,500 чел, ждать 3-5 лет. Короче, ответа нет. Сейчас. когда газета подняла шумиху, есть надежда, что ее не упекут в тюрьму и какой-нибудь добрый богатый дядя решит помочь этой семье. Но вообще, вот вам иллюстрация, какова в США социальная защита.
Storage Unit As Shelter Not Unique, Workers Say
Girls Found in Md. Shed Spotlight Housing Woes
By Susan Kinzie and Joshua Partlow
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, November 24, 2004; Page A01
In 20 years working in commercial storage, years when she has also had to work nights waitressing at the Golden Corral to help support her children, Robin Lawrence has seen lots of people living in storage sheds.
"Sometimes they can fix them up really nice," said Lawrence, who works at Economy Storage in Waldorf. They might add insulation, carpet on the floor, a bed, a rack for their clothes, a television, a hot plate, maybe even a little grill out back. "It's just like a little efficiency, but without running water."
The arrest of a 33-year-old woman last week for allegedly locking her 4- and 5-year-old daughters in a commercial storage shed for three nights has exposed a hidden corner of life. Yesterday, Reuben B. Collins, an attorney for Felicia M. Dorsey, cautioned reporters not to judge too harshly until all the facts emerge.
"A mother's love for her children may not be rationally understood under every circumstance, especially as she and others struggle to survive," Collins said, declining to elaborate on what he called the "extraordinary circumstances" of his client's life.
Social services officials have said that they want to confirm that Dorsey is the biological mother of the girls. Collins said Dorsey is willing to take a blood test to prove it.
Although the allegations shocked many people, advocates for the homeless in Southern Maryland and other parts of the region said that, increasingly, families have been driven to find makeshift shelter -- in sheds, cars, unheated trailers and the woods.
Sandy Washington, of the Ministers Alliance of Charles County, a religious group that posted bond for Dorsey, said that last year, the group helped six families that had been living in storage sheds, and she has heard of more. Dorsey rented a $65-a-month shed at Budget Self Storage in Waldorf, authorities said.
Housing prices have risen so quickly in the Washington area, some advocates for the homeless say, that people are driven to find shelter in all sorts of places.
"We were not completely shocked to hear about this. We've heard of adults living in storage sheds before," said Beth Flynn, program administrator for Catholic Charities Angel's Watch Regional Shelter in Hughesville. "We're always full, and it's only going to get worse in the winter. We're turning away five to 10 families a day."
In Charles County, the median home price is $256,700, up 31 percent from last year. The median rent for a two-bedroom apartment is $1,218, too high for 54 percent of county renters, according to a Baltimore-based advocacy group, the Maryland Center for Community Development. And the rental vacancy rate is close to zero, housing officials said.
The housing problem is reflected across the region. The shortage of affordable and available rental units in Maryland grew by 17 percent from 1990 to 2000, to 76,000 units, according to the state Department of Housing and Community Development. In the same period, Virginia's shortage grew by 22 percent to 90,700 units, and the District's rose by 15 percent to 22,500 units.
Waiting lists for subsidized housing vouchers are long in many places. Charles County has more than 2,500 people on its waiting list, and officials estimate that it takes three to five years to move up.
Some storage company managers said they could not believe that anyone would want to live on a cement floor with no plumbing -- or that anyone could, given how much security there is now at storage facilities. "That blows my mind," said Heather DuBois, manager of Potomac Self Storage in Lexington Park.
But storage sheds are used to house all sorts of things, from old sofas to items that are against the rules, such as explosives. A newspaper in Indiana wrote about a man who chose to live in a unit for years and refused to leave even when people offered money.
"I've often thought about that -- before I started working at one of these places -- that that would be a cheap way to live," said Shawn Wertz, who works at Guardian Self Storage in Chantilly. "Get a little climate-controlled unit. Get a membership at a health club" for showers.
He said, however, that finding people living there "doesn't happen too often."
Recently, his company discovered that an unrented unit in an Ashburn facility had a customer's lock on it. A longtime client, a man who owned a plumbing business and had fallen on hard times, had moved into a shed next to the one he filled with equipment. The man was sent to a shelter to spend the night, Wertz said.
Living last year at Economy Storage in Waldorf, Lawrence said, were a young couple, the man in construction and the woman working odd jobs; an older couple, a minister and his wife; and a woman who owned a car and had a membership at a nearby gym. After what amounted to a neighborhood dispute took them to court, the judge asked the county to look into the situation.
The people had to move out immediately, since living in a storage shed violates housing codes.
"They just want a place to sleep at night where they're not wet, not cold," Lawrence said. Most people who stayed there went to work every morning and came home at night and didn't bother a soul, she added.
Staff writer Arthur Santana contributed to this report