Build-a-Story: Falling out of the middle class
The Great Recession officially ended in June 2009, but in its wake, it left tens of thousands of families struggling to adjust to new circumstances, often a rung or two lower on the socioeconomic ladder. As part of a larger effort to delve into how people are adjusting to the “new normal,” I’m looking to talk to individuals and families who long considered themselves solidly middle class, but because of changing economic conditions are now navigating for the first time the bureaucracy of public assistance, trying to secure services they never thought they'd ever need, such as unemployment benefits, emergency housing, and food stamps. The agencies that provide these services have their own challenges: they are grappling with increased caseloads at a time of shrinking budgets.
I am interested in learning more about how the experience of dealing with public assistance bureaucracies for first-timers compares to their lives before the recession, especially for folks who have only known an existence of relative efficiency and attentive service. How has the daily routine and pace of life changed? Which took longer, getting a cup of coffee at Starbucks during the morning rush, or getting the attention of the right case worker to help you fill out a food stamp application?
To share your experiences, you can write me at Shina AT washpost.com or fill in the form below. Any help is appreciated. Thanks.
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