Billy Schlegel plunged from middle class into poverty in the time it took his daughter to play a soccer season.
In January 2010, he was making $50,000 a year as a surveyor, meeting the mortgage payments on his three-bedroom home in the nation’s wealthiest county and paying for his children to play hockey and soccer.
Then came February. Schlegel, 45, was laid off. During the next 18 months, the divorced father of three almost lost his house, had to stop paying child support and turned to the local food bank for basic necessities.
“You’ve got to swallow your pride,” Schlegel says. “Especially around here; people lose their status and they feel they don’t fit in.”This is the face of poverty after the Great Recession. Millions of Americans such as Schlegel now find themselves among the suddenly poor.