US citizens continue to live in welfare quagmire
Seven miles from Washington DC’s busy 11th Street Bridges another world exists in an area called Woodland Terrace with a high crime rate and massive drug activity.
Situated in the heart of Woodland Terrace, Langston Lane apartment complex is an oasis from the surrounding troubles and home to nearly 120 families who on average earn less than $10,000 a year. Most of them receive money from the government to pay rent for their homes.
To keep the outside problems outside the apartment Langston Lanes’ security office keeps several eyes on the lookout at all times. Surveillance cameras are attached to many of the buildings of the complex, but the main form of safekeeping is its heavy gate.
To get into Langston Lanes, you have to pass through security, but there's one unavoidable, recurring concern for Langston Lanes, and it comes from inside.
“Many of the people that go on welfare are relatively young, some in their teens. They don’t have a high school education, for them it’s very hard to get work,” Edward Berkowitz from George Washington University says.
“Some of our tenants have been here over 14-15 years. The mother is here. Her children are here. And some of the children's children are here,” tenant services coordinator Mable Carter observes.
Ruby Coleman-Brown receives welfare. She's had ten kids: three boys, seven girls. And of those seven, four of them are now young single mothers themselves, also on welfare.
“There are a lot of single mothers out here who don't want a job. They want to stay on welfare, as it’s easy,” Ruby says.
Now caring for three more stepchildren, Ruby has watched her children repeat her own mistakes.
About 70% of all the families in the area are headed by a young single mother, and it’s with them in mind that the apartment complex offers a family-planning class.
“We have parenting classes. We have budget classes. We have housekeeping classes,” Mable Carter confirms.
However, according to Ruby Coleman-Brown not all of the residents are taking advantage of those options “because they don’t want to do nothing,” meaning there will likely be little change in attitude for some time.