“Neel Kashkari is the Republican underdog challenging Gov. Jerry Brown (D). Last week, he was a homeless guy in Fresno.” Read More.
“California Comeback!” is the favorite slogan of Sacramento politicians cheering a temporary budget surplus provided by a roaring stock market. But California also has the highest poverty rate in America at 24%. Is California back? I wanted to see firsthand what that comeback looks like for many Californians.
So, last Monday morning I took a Greyhound bus from Los Angeles to Fresno. With only forty dollars in my pocket (and no credit cards), a backpack, a change of clothes, and a toothbrush, I planned to find a job and earn enough money to get by. I am an able-bodied 40-year old. Surely I could find some work?
Over the next seven days, I walked mile after mile in one hundred degree heat searching for a job. I offered to do anything: wash dishes, sweep floors, pack boxes, cook meals, anything. I went to dozens of businesses in search of work but wasn’t able to get any. In seven days, I didn’t see a single “help wanted” sign but I did see plenty of signs that fast food outlets now accept food stamps.
I was committed to finding a job. It was my top priority, but halfway through the week my priority was forced to change: I barely had any money left and needed to find food. Fortunately, kind-hearted homeless residents in Fresno pointed me to a shelter, Poverello House, which provides services to the homeless. I had no choice but to join the hundreds of men, women and families who go to the shelter for food.