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Surviving poverty

By Danielle Parenteau/Bay News Rising

My mom and I live in a 100-square-foot single-room occupancy hotel in downtown San Francisco. We get by on about $14,000 per year.

Some people think that those who live in poverty or receive government aid want a free ride. The truth is -- the ride heads one way: to desperation and dependency, since rules punish initiative and errors can ensnare recipients like my mom and me in Catch-22 dramas that can last for months — in some cases, years.

At $265 a week, our rent costs nearly all we have, leaving us next to nothing for food, clothing, transportation and textbooks. Most of our cash flow comes from the financial aid I receive from San Francisco State University, where I am a senior majoring in journalism. I took out student loans to pay our rent.

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Danielle Parenteau studies journalism at SFSU. Photo by Sara Bloomberg 2014.


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