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Report: One in Five Families Struggle to Meet Basic Needs

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- The U.S. Census Bureau says one in five families struggle to meet basic needs. They're having difficulties paying rent or a mortgage, affording utilities and paying for food and medical visits.
The gas situation was really tough, so it made everything else tough.
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- The U.S. Census Bureau says one in five families struggle to meet basic needs.

They're having difficulties paying rent or a mortgage, affording utilities and paying for food and medical visits.

It was gas prices that Melinda Harbottle and Russell Morton say finally caused them to break financially. They were living just outside Springfield and lost their home. Now like thousands of other families, they have had to reach out for help.

Harbottle says growing up in Springfield she remembers looking at the people in the Missouri Hotel with a mixture of pity and disdain.

"I was really mad and upset with myself when I made the call and moved in there."

Now she and her partner live there. They had no choice.

"We've been living in a storage building out south of town and it just got so hot, you know, we didn't have running water," she says.

Harbottle says not long ago they lived in a home. But, the price of gas to get to work put their ability to pay for necessities like rent, utilities and food in jeopardy.

"The gas situation was really tough, so it made everything else tough," says Morton.

Once they were behind, they couldn't catch up. Bills and late fees piled on.

"You couldn't pay last month's bill so you certainly don't have the money for the rest of it," and so did the stress of the situation. "You get older quicker because you're constantly worrying. You don't know where you're going to sleep, where your food is coming from," says Harbottle.

The U.S. Census Bureau says one in five families is living this struggle daily and charities in the Ozarks are seeing the impact first hand. Read the report, above.

"I am going to say around 2010 is when we saw the huge numbers jump," says Theresa Oglesby, Coordinator of Resident Services at The Kitchen, Inc. "Currently we have 186 individuals on the waiting list, which is 76 families. Out of that, 82 or 83 are children."

Oglesby say there is not enough affordable housing or jobs where people can make a living wage. Morton and Harbottle say people don't know how thin the line is between the haves and the have nots.

"Just a job away," says Morton.

Oglesby says someone in Springfield has to work to minimum wage jobs to even get close to affording a $400-500 a month apartment.
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