Framework

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Before the economy crashed, home for the Long family was a two-bedroom house with a pool. For most of this year, it was a shelter on L.A.'s skid row. Over a year later, they're hoping for a Section 8 voucher that would help pay for a permanent apartment, giving the children a stable living environment. Jonathan Long passes a plastic fork to daughter Kayloni, 8, as the family eats dinner on the floor of their room at the Union Rescue Mission shelter. Jonathan and his wife, Veronica, prefer bringing the food from the cafeteria up to their room rather than taking the children to the shelter's cafeteria.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Katie Falkenberg / For The Times

Nathan, 7, Aidan, 2, Kayloni, 8, James, 4 (behind Kayloni) and Veronica pass the afternoon inside their room at Union Rescue Mission on skid row.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Katie Falkenberg / For The Times

Jonathan places his hand on Aidan's forehead after giving him a bottle as the family begins to settle in for the night in their room at the shelter.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Katie Falkenberg / For The Times

Jonathan and Veronica watch television before going to sleep. The family share one room in the shelter and thus have to be creative with their sleeping arrangements.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Katie Falkenberg / For The Times

Jonathan appears in Los Angeles County Superior Court after being arrested for outstanding warrants for unpaid tickets, including for riding the Metro without paying. Unable to post bail, he spent nine days in jail waiting for the cases to be resolved.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Katie Falkenberg / For The Times

Veronica holds newborn son Miles as Aidan, 2, stands close by in their room at Union Rescue Mission. Just after the family moved into the shelter, Veronica and Jonathan found out they were pregnant. "I wasn't ready to have another baby," she said. "I can't support the ones I have."

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Katie Falkenberg / For The Times

Kayloni pretends to put on some of her mom's makeup as Veronica gets herself ready in the bathroom of the shelter. The sink also became a place to do their dishes as the family didn't have a kitchen.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Katie Falkenberg / For The Times

After living in the shelter for close to a year, Veronica begins packing up their room after learning that the family got an apartment at a transitional housing facility in Koreatown. When she received the phone call that the family had obtained the apartment, she grabbed the children and jumped up and down.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Katie Falkenberg / For The Times

Veronica plays with sons James and Aidan on the floor of their new apartment at a transitional housing facility. Veronica was excited to move because it got them off of skid row and into a place that was similar to having their own apartment again: It had two bedrooms, their own bathroom and their own kitchen.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Katie Falkenberg / For The Times

Jonathan picks a clover flower for son James as the family spends the afternoon playing in a park in Van Nuys.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Katie Falkenberg / For The Times

As their children play at the entrance to a Van Nuys park, Jonathan and Veronica talk about where they are going to live after Jonathan was not allowed to come back to their transitional housing apartment after a dispute with staff over house rules.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Katie Falkenberg / For The Times

Veronica did not want to have the family not all together, so she refused to stay in the apartment without Jonathan. As Jonathan played with the kids in the park, Veronica spent the afternoon calling family shelters in the greater Los Angeles area to see if they had any room.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Katie Falkenberg / For The Times

At a 99-cent store, Veronica tries to get as many groceries as she can to last the family the rest of the month while having enough money left to get Jonathan a motel room since he was no longer allowed at their apartment. The night before, he had slept on a slide in the park where he and the children had played earlier in the day.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Katie Falkenberg / For The Times

After searching for weeks, the Longs found a room at a family shelter run by L.A. Family Housing in North Hollywood. Their new place consists of two small bedrooms, a bathroom and a closet separating the two rooms.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Katie Falkenberg / For The Times

Jonathan does Nathan's hair in the bathroom of their room at the North Hollywood facility. "This experience has humbled me," Jonathan said.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Katie Falkenberg / For The Times

Though Veronica acknowledges that being in a shelter again is a step backward, she is relieved to be back in the San Fernando Valley, which the family considers home. "Since I've been here I have apologized to my children on numerous occasions," Veronica said, "I feel like it's my fault that we ended up on skid row. But I had no choice." All Jonathan wants, he says, is a Section 8 housing voucher so he can provide the family a stable home.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Katie Falkenberg / For The Times

Alexendrea Tucker, 9, pauses as she plays outside her family's bungalow in Pasadena. Andre and Equllia Tucker wanted to own their own house one day, but that dream has evaporated because they don't have the money for a deposit. "It's really hard to save in this environment," Andre said. Despite working three jobs between them, he and Equillia are behind on the rent.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Katie Falkenberg / For The Times

Fans cool the living room in their Pasdena bungalow as Equllia Tucker does daughter Alexandrea's hair the night before the first day of school.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Katie Falkenberg / For The Times

After school and before dinner, Andre and Equllia help their children Alexandrea, 9, and Joshua, 7, with their homework.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Katie Falkenberg / For The Times

Joshua and Alexandrea play in their backyard. "I just hope there will be something left for them when I'm gone," said Andre of his children.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Katie Falkenberg / For The Times

Joshua says goodbye to his father as Equllia takes their two children out for the day.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Katie Falkenberg / For The Times

Alexandrea says a prayer before eating the dinner her mother prepared. Faith plays a big part in the Tuckers' lives. "All we have now is hope and faith," Equllia said. "That's all we're living on now."

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Katie Falkenberg / For The Times

Alexandrea rests on her mother as they and other families wait in line to receive free backpacks, supplies and uniforms for the upcoming school year. The event was sponsored by Foothill Unity Center, where the Tuckers also receive food each Wednesday.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Katie Falkenberg / For The Times

Joshua, right, gets his hair cut for free by Jarred Miller of Famous Cuts during the back-to-school event put on by Foothill Unity Center.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Katie Falkenberg / For The Times

Alexandrea and Joshua play in the entryway to the kitchen as Equllia cooks dinner.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Katie Falkenberg / For The Times

Equllia Tucker worries about rent, bills and keeping a roof over the family's head. At one point the phone company threatened to disconnect their line.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Katie Falkenberg / For The Times

The Petersen family had a six-figure income in a gated community in Orange County. When the bottom of the real estate market fell out, Eric Petersen, a mortgage broker, lost his livelihood. After loading boxes of food they received from the Saddleback Church food pantry, Kim Petersen, second from right, and her sons, Ryan,13, left, and Blake, 11, are joined by a pantry volunteer who prays for them.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Katie Falkenberg / For The Times

Blake checks the expiration date on a can of food before passing it to his mother, Kim, at the pantry where they volunteer. "It helps to serve here because you feel like you're the only person in the world going through this," Kim said. "No one in my cul-de-sac has been affected," she said of the economy. "They're still buying their Ferraris and coming with their bags and bags of purchases."

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Katie Falkenberg / For The Times

Kim looks back for her sons as she pushes her cart of groceries at the food pantry.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Katie Falkenberg / For The Times

Kim takes her sons Ryan, left, and Blake shopping for shirts and ties to wear to their uncle's wedding in Hawaii. Kim and Eric weren't planning on their boys attending because of the cost of the airfare, but family members chipped in.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Katie Falkenberg / For The Times

Kim talks to the family's mortgage lender about a missed payment. She told the lender that she was waiting to see if they were going to be approved for any of the loan modification programs they offered. They were denied for eight different programs.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Katie Falkenberg / For The Times

Kim and her son Ryan prepare lunch together in the family's kitchen. By late 2009, Eric Petersen said they had come to a point: "Forget about the mortgage, we were concerned about food."

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Katie Falkenberg / For The Times

Eric takes a break from making business calls to play with the family's dog, Caleb. When the housing market was at its peak, he was making as much as $360,000 a year brokering mortgages and providing mobile notary services.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Katie Falkenberg / For The Times

Kim home-schools her two boys at their house in Orange County.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Katie Falkenberg / For The Times

Kim watches as Eric, right, packs for a trip to Florida. At center is their son Blake. After not being able to find steady work in the greater Orange County and Los Angeles area, Eric asked his brother, a Florida orthopedic surgeon, if he could work with him sourcing medical devices.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Katie Falkenberg / For The Times

Eric bids Kim goodbye at the Ontario airport. "Living in California and traveling to Florida is a longer commute than I am used to," Eric said. But, he adds, "I would be willing to do whatever it takes to feed the family and pay the bills."

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Katie Falkenberg / For The Times

The Petersens sit down for dinner consisting entirely of food that came from a church pantry.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Katie Falkenberg / For The Times

After school, Andre Tucker helps son Joshua, 7, left, and Alexandrea, 9, with their homework.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Katie Falkenberg / For The Times

Equllia Tucker folds her family's laundry while Joshua plays.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Katie Falkenberg / For The Times

Equllia was nearly reduced to tears when she got a parking ticket after attending a school-supply give-away put on by the Foothill Unity Center. Here, she leaves a message with the parking enforcement office to try to get it taken care of.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Katie Falkenberg / For The Times

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Before the economy crashed, home for the Long family was a two-bedroom house with a pool. For most of this year, it was a shelter on skid row. Over a year later, they’re hoping for a Section 8 voucher that would help pay for a permanent apartment, giving the children a stable living environment.

Andre and Equllia Tucker hoped to own their own home one day. “It’s the American dream,” Andre said. But that dream has been put on hold for now because they don’t have the money for a deposit. Despite working three jobs between them, Andre and Equllia are behind on rent.

The Petersen family had a six-figure income living in an exclusive gated community in Orange County. When the bottom of the real estate market fell out, Eric Petersen, a mortgage broker, lost his entire livelihood. “I would be willing to do whatever it takes to feed the family and pay the bills,” he said.

Los Angeles Times reporter Alexandra Zavis and photographer Katie Falkenberg followed these Southland families, each having suffered major setbacks during the recession, and each trying to regain their dignity and security amid ominous predictions of a looming second hit.

2 Comments

  1. September 25, 2011, 9:32 am

    Boy–there's a lot more to this story, esp. the Longs, than was printed in the paper–what rules did Jonathan break, exactly? Mr and Mrs Long must have about $2500 worth of tattoos–not exactly deep planners, were they?

    By: bart
  2. September 25, 2011, 9:42 am

    Why doesn't this story show up on the LAT search engine? And why no mention of the Long's eviction in 2009? I think that there's more to these stories than was "reported".

    By: bart

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