April 20, 2014

Elyria
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Family says a long goodbye to Wilkes Villa

Tabitha Crabtree, a single mother of three, has lived in an apartment complex run by the Lorain Metropolitan Housing Complex for 11 years. Tabitha first moved to Wilkes Villa when she was pregnant with her first child, and never thought she would stay. Although Wilkes Villa was the best place for her at the time, throughout the years, while not making nearly enough to support a family of four, Tabitha found herself stuck in what many call the "projects." With an autistic son, mounting doctors' bills, and the cost of living, Tabitha said, "I was working so we could be OK today." KRISTIN BAUER | CHRONICLE

Tabitha Crabtree, a single mother of three, has lived in an apartment complex run by the Lorain Metropolitan Housing Complex for 11 years. Tabitha first moved to Wilkes Villa when she was pregnant with her first child, and never thought she would stay. KRISTIN BAUER | CHRONICLE

ELYRIA — The single mother of three surveyed her living room, sizing up what to take next and reaches for a pack of cigarettes instead. At that moment, taking long drags was the only thing that calmed her nerves as she moved through the biggest change of her life.

“I really didn’t plan for this,” Tabitha Crabtree said on a recent Saturday as she blew smoke into the air.

“I’m just tired — tired of being here,” she said. “I was never supposed to be here this long. You don’t move to a place like this and think you’re going to stay that long. So, yeah, I think now is the time. I’m moving my family out of the projects.”

Eleven years.

KRISTIN BAUER | CHRONICLE    Tabitha Crabtree and her sons, Scott, 10, and Dillon, 6, stand outside their Wilkes Villa home while preparing to move on July 27. Tabitha speaks with Scott about packing the truck as Dillon hops around on one foot after losing a flipflop. This will be the family's first home, as Tabitha prepares to leave the safety net of Wilkes Villa for becoming a first-time homeowner.

KRISTIN BAUER | CHRONICLE
Tabitha Crabtree and her sons, Scott, 10, and Dillon, 6, stand outside their Wilkes Villa home while preparing to move on July 27. Tabitha speaks with Scott about packing the truck as Dillon hops around on one foot after losing a flipflop. This will be the family’s first home, as Tabitha prepares to leave the safety net of Wilkes Villa for becoming a first-time homeowner.

That’s how long Crabtree, 31, lived in Wilkes Villa, an apartment complex run by Lorain Metropolitan Housing Complex on Elyria’s south side. There are 174 apartment homes in Wilkes Villa, built on less than five acres of land in the early 1970s. The idea was to give people a safety net to hold them as they made the leap to independent living.

Crabtree moved into Wilkes Villa in 2002 when pregnant with her first child and homeless. By all accounts, it was the best place for her to be in that situation.

She just didn’t think it was where she would stay.

“I just thought I would have figured out a way to move out,” she said. “I’m not lazy. I stay working and with a job, but it’s still not easy.”

In this day and age of layoffs, foreclosures, furloughs and cutbacks, the voices of people like Crabtree proclaiming how hard they are working at the bottom of the economic ladder often fall on deaf ears when heard by others working just a few rungs higher. The Crabtrees of the world are used to hearing things like “get a job,” “get off the public dole” or “you would have more if you weren’t so lazy.”

In all the excitement occurring around him, Dillon lays down on his mattress and kicks up at his brothers in protest of moving. Dillon is upset to see all of his things leave the room he has lived in for years to be packed away.

In all the excitement occurring around him, Dillon lays down on his mattress and kicks up at his brothers in protest of moving. Dillon is upset to see all of his things leave the room he has lived in for years to be packed away.

When LMHA announced earlier this year it had developed a master plan for the complete reconstruction of Wilkes Villa, Elyria’s cyber community erupted with harsh comments. Very few looked beyond the issue of how more adequate and energy-efficient public housing was needed in the community to address the housing needs of hundreds of women, children and families.

“It has been labeled as something bad in the community, but the residents there have the same desire to have clean, happy and safe homes for their families as everyone else in Elyria,” LMHA board chairwoman Evelyn France said in early June.

The plan also led some to question why the complex wasn’t being used as the stepping stone it was intended to be.

The answer is something social service agencies have known for decades. It takes a lot more money to meet a family’s basic needs than people may think or the federal government’s poverty guidelines suggests.

Dillon lost his left shoe during packing and proceeded to hop on foot while his family packed and carried boxes around him.

Dillon lost his left shoe during packing and proceeded to hop on foot while his family packed and carried boxes around him.

The 2012 Poverty Report and companion Self-Sufficiency Standard Report, researched by the University of Washington Center for Women’s Welfare and commissioned by the Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies, to illustrate just how the poor are getting by said that an average self-sufficient family of four — “self-sufficient” is defined as not needing any public or government assistance of any kind — will spend upwards of $3,386 a month on basic needs.

For one in six Ohioans living in poverty, their budget is typically half of that or $1,900, which may seem like enough, but realistically cannot cover all the needs of a four-person family such as housing, child care, food, health care and transportation.

Never mind things that the poor see as luxuries — like saving or eating out at restaurants from menus beyond the dollar offering of popular fast food establishments.

“The Self-Sufficiency Standard helps families, agencies and policy makers know what income level it takes in their community to reach that goal without government assistance,” said Philip E. Cole, executive director of OACAA.

Cole said the families living in the shadows of middle-income are working hard.

“It is the goal of all Ohioans to be out of poverty,” he said.

Mothers and kids

Some days, it’s 28-year-old Christina Beetler who handles the kids — finding them games or making each something quick to eat. It’s the summer, so there are a lot of children to occupy and fill the void of a missing school day.

On another day, the duties will more than likely fall to one of her neighbors.

Not growing up in Wilkes Villa, Beetler didn’t know exactly what to expect when she moved into the complex with her daughter five years ago. The place has long had a reputation of being more than a little rough.

But, Beetler said, Wilkes Villa is more neighborhood than people think.

“When you boil it down, it’s just a bunch of mothers trying to raise their kids,” she said. “We’re doing the best we can. When you live this close to people and share the same problems after a while you grow into a family. You take care of each other and look out for each other.”

Beetler moved to public housing after living on her own in an apartment in Sheffield. She was working as a server at the Applebee’s in Avon and doing OK on her $2.13 an hour plus tips.

Then, like a set of dominos, she got pregnant for a second time, lost her job because she missed too many days of work dealing with pregnancy complications, lost her apartment and needed a place to live.
Wilkes became that place.

“I moved over here because it was income-based,” she said one recent Tuesday outside her White Court apartment while her kids — a more independent 6-year-old daughter and rambunctious “all boy” 4-year-old son — clamored for attention. “I wanted to go back to school, but how can I do that, work full time and still be a mom?”

It’s not easy to do all three, as Beetler is now learning.

When her children’s father lost his job, her child-support checks stopped coming in, and she had to pick up more hours at Bob Evans, where she works now. His help has since returned, but now she has to cut her hours so she can finish classes at Lorain County Community College.

Even once she obtains her degree — she’s working toward an associate degree in human service — she wonders if she will be able to get a job that will be able to handle everything her family needs.

“I can’t wait tables forever. It’s tough on your body and eventually you have to do something else,” she said.
But even with child support, Beetler said she only makes about $1,200 a month.

She fills the gap with food stamps, Medicaid, child care vouchers and child support. She can’t imagine losing any of the support. She would need a lot more than full-time at Bob Evans, she said.

“I would have to, like, quadruple my income, and I just don’t see that happening anytime soon,” she said. “People who are making $3,600 a month are living the American dream. Some of us are just living.”

Beetler knows there are people who wish she didn’t need entitlement programs to live, but she can’t let those comments keep her from feeding her kids or keeping a roof over their heads. It’s just her making sure her two kids are OK, she said.

“My life works itself out, and I try not to get stressed out thinking about other people,” she said. “You know some people have moms, dads or family to help them. I only have me.”

Stepping up is not easy

The new-to-her trailer Crabtree is settling in.

Tabitha picks up a pack of cigarettes and went outside in an attempt to calm her nerves from the stress of the move. She speaks to her son, Scott, 10, about what life will be like in their new home after they move in.

Tabitha picks up a pack of cigarettes and went outside in an attempt to calm her nerves from the stress of the move. She speaks to her son, Scott, 10, about what life will be like in their new home after they move in.

Proximity wise, Wilkes Villa is a mere five minute car ride away. But in the mind of a single mother trying to teach her kids — Scott, 10, Dillon, 6, and Aurora, 3 — how to be self-sufficient, the worlds are separated by miles.

“I’ll be the first person to say I didn’t go far,” Crabtree said. “I’m literally around the corner from the projects, but I got my family out, and I am never coming back.”

By all accounts, Crabtree said she doesn’t see herself as the stereotypical public housing resident — the kind of person anonymous persons referred to as “leeches on society” and “zoo animals” in online comments earlier this year when LMHA unveiled its master plan for re-making Wilkes Villa.

In the coming years, the hope is to raze the entire complex, building by building, and replace units with energy efficient homes.

Crabtree read the comments as well, thinking the same about some of her neighbors — the ones with more children than her, no job in sight, and the ones who party all night when she has to get up in the morning.

If you ask her, she will tell you she is not like them.

She has never been afraid to work.

But, like so many who end up in public housing, Crabtree got there because she was not prepared for adult life and ended up making poor decisions.

A disagreement with her parents over a curfew led to her being kicked out of her family home a few weeks after high school in June 2000. She bounced from friend to friend until she met her oldest son’s father.

Dillon, 6, awaits his family's move in his bedroom at Wilkes Villa.  Dillon's autism has made this move especially difficult, and important throughout the years.  His mother, Tabitha Crabtree, expresses her difficulty in raising a child, let alone an autistic child, as a single mother living in what many call "the projects." There are many scratches and crayon marks left behind above his bed from his outbursts throughout the years. Throughout the afternoon on moving day, his family constantly encouraged him that his Spongebob Square Pants bed sheets and his stuffed animal dog will make it to the new house.

Dillon, 6, awaits his family’s move in his bedroom at Wilkes Villa. Dillon’s autism has made this move especially difficult, and important throughout the years. His mother, Tabitha Crabtree, expresses her difficulty in raising a child, let alone an autistic child, as a single mother living in what many call “the projects.” There are many scratches and crayon marks left behind above his bed from his outbursts throughout the years. Throughout the afternoon on moving day, his family constantly encouraged him that his SpongeBob SquarePants bed sheets and his stuffed animal dog will make it to the new house.

By January 2001, she was married.

“It was like finally I had a connection to someone,” Crabtree said.

Her husband promised her the world and sold Wilkes Villa as the stepping stone to a better life. By October 2002, she was a mom for the first time at age 20.

“A young 20 that didn’t know much about life,” Crabtree said.

The marriage did not last long. He left Crabtree and Wilkes Villa behind.

She became a single mother with just a high school education — she graduated from Open Door Christian School — to fall back on.

Her next relationship — she bore another two children — was much of the same. She has remained friends with the father of her two youngest children, but the relationship ended some time ago with Crabtree taking on the day-to-day job of raising her children. It also left little time for her to pursue what seemed like a pipe dream — leaving public housing.

“I was working so we could be OK today,” she said.

It didn’t help that Dillon, with his infectious smile, presented her with a problem that seemed to never get an answer. Dillon wouldn’t eat food, didn’t socialize well and seemed off — not like her other son.

She suspected something in the autism spectrum for years, but a diagnosis would be years in the making. In the meantime, Crabtree spent years carting her kids between Elyria and Cleveland for numerous doctors’ appointments.

There were entire weeks where the household budget was spent on gas or entire days at the doctor’s office when instead Crabtree could have been working. She had to find out what was wrong with her son.

“I felt like it took my whole life to get here,” she said of her son’s diagnosis last year, not long after he started kindergarten and a teacher noticed something wasn’t right and suggested Dillon undergo further testing.
She is finally receiving some cash assistance for Dillon, and he will start attending a school for children with autism in the fall.

“That’s been the hardest part. How do you explain to people that your child is not normal without a clinical diagnosis?” she said. “How do you explain to someone you need them to watch your child so you can work, but he has meltdowns, doesn’t like new places and refuses to eat?”

With huge issues looming over her head for her family, Crabtree said she only dreamed of leaving the safety net of Wilkes Villa. She needed to be in the now for her children and that has meant working as much as she could to say ahead of what they needed.

Daring to dream

In less than a month, Bobbie DeShay Calloway will head to Columbus.

The two-hour drive will end with the 34-year-old mother of three either getting her license to practice cosmetology or not. After years of working mainly customer service jobs, Calloway said she decided months ago to step out on faith and go after her dream.

She enrolled in the Ohio Regency Beauty Institute.

Calloway has loved to do hair for as far back as she can remember and has long dreamed of opening her own hair salon.

“Everyone around here knows me as the one who does hair,” she said. “Sometimes I like to do braids and hairstyles for girls before they go back to school.”

The residents of Wilkes Villa dream, too, she said. Hers extend farther than her apartment on Bohannon Court.
Calloway knows there are some people who think she would rather sit around than work, but she doesn’t listen to that – that’s just people not knowing who lives in public housing, she said.

ReThinkHousing.org estimates that of the 2.2 million people who live in public housing, 41 percent are children and 32 percent are elderly.

With three young children — 7, 2 and 3 at the time — Calloway moved to Wilkes Villa from Cleveland almost 12 years ago. All of her family lived in Elyria and she needed to move closer with her children.

“You know, this place offers a kind of stability. Even if the economy is bad, you won’t have to worry about bouncing from place to place because you can’t pay your rent or pick rent over feeding your kids,” she said. “I know its Wilkes Villa, but I didn’t want to hop around with my kids.”

Calloway’s children are now 19, 15 and 14. One finished her second year in college and the younger teenagers are students at Elyria High School. She also has one on the way in October.

“They don’t hang around getting into trouble,” she said. “They’re turning out to be OK. I would say I have pretty good kids.”

Raising kids at Wilkes Villa has not always been easy. There have been times Calloway said they have asked to move and wondered why they couldn’t have the big house with the picket fence.

And, it’s not like Calloway has never dreamed of that for herself. She never moved to Wilkes Villa with a plan to stay so long — a sentiment so many people have expressed.

“But it just happens. One day turns into years. You spend so much time caring for your kids … that’s all you worry about,” she said. “But when they started talking like that, I tell them my mom always raised us to believe it’s not where you live, it’s how you live,” Calloway said.

Moving on

It was less than a month ago when Crabtree went to the Colonial Oaks Mobile Home Park to just look at trailers but ended up dropping hundreds as a deposit on a three-bedroom unit.

Aurora, 3, sits in her room at her families' new home and gazes out her window at her first backyard where she will be able to go outside and play.

Aurora, 3, sits in her room at her families’ new home and gazes out her window at her first backyard where she will be able to go outside and play.

She has wanted to own something, but she worried that at $9.41 an hour her job pays would not sustain such a leap.

She will soon find out if she was right.

“I’m really stressed about the money aspect, but you know I got to just do it,” she said. “This is the first day I have had off in three weeks. I’m pulling like 60 hours a week and if that’s not enough I’ll get a second job. I’ve done it before.”

Her lot rent is the same as her apartment rent — about $315 a month — and her trailer mortgage will tack an additional $200 onto her monthly budget, but Crabtree said it’s time she stepped out on faith that she is ready to stand on her own two feet.

The spontaneity of her decision was evident one rainy Saturday afternoon as she and friends moved through the half-packed and half-lived-in apartment she would soon be leaving. Dishes were in the drying rack from dinner the night before, and pictures of her kids remained taped to the refrigerator door.

“I’m doing it all today,” she said.

Her confidence filtered down to her three kids. All helped in the move and couldn’t stop talking about their new home.

“Can we play outside now?” Dillon wanted to know.

“I don’t let my kids play out there,” Crabtree said of the playground a stone’s throw from her front door at Wilkes Villa. “The first time Scott went out there, he was punched in the face by another kid, and I said never again.”

“Yeah, you can,” Crabtree said turning to her middle son, the one who in the chaos of the move lost a flip-flop and was nearby hopping on one foot in search of his other shoe.

“But first we have to move, so let’s get moving. It’s time to go.”

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or lroberson@chroniclet.com.

  • Jamie Smith

    CONGRATS to Tabitha Crabtree and her Family. How wonderful that they are getting their new home. She has achieved a dream that will make life so much better for her three children. She obviously is a hard working single Mother and now reaps the rewards. You go Girl !

  • Pablo Jones

    “that an average self-sufficient family of four —
    “self-sufficient” is defined as not needing any public or government
    assistance of any kind — will spend upwards of $3,386 a month on basic
    needs. ”

    Wow that is amazing. I had know idea it costs that much to support a family of 4. I guess I should be lucky that I support a family of 8. Apparently it is cheaper to support 8 people than four because I don’t spend close $3,386 a month on basic needs.

  • Derp

    Stop smoking cigarettes and move on up to a better place

  • Pablo Jones

    A family of 4 making $40,000 a year would not be paying income taxes, let alone a 22% tax rate. They would actually get money back from the government from the child tax credits, earned income tax credits, etc. I’ll give you payroll taxes (SS & Medicare) about $200. So add back in $550. At $40,000 the kids would still qualify for medicaid.

    If they had a mortgage they would be getting a portion of the interest paid back on their taxes. If they rent then they wouldn’t have any home repairs or maintenance.

    Unplanned medical expenses can be made by payments and you still get treated. Some of your other costs are high as well. I don’t spend $6 a day per person on food. Childcare is highly subjective you can find people that will do it for less and then it is only for a short period of time until the kids get older. I guess it makes sense not to have kids until you can afford it and for the mother and father to stay together. Also utility programs give reduced rates for those with low incomes.

    That gives them over $800 a month in discretionary income or about $10,000 a year. As I said I support 8 for less than $3386 a month for the basics. Do I have extras yes, but for the basics it is well less than $3386 a month.

    • http://comradealan.com/ Alan Pugh

      22% is inclusive of payroll taxes and income taxes at the federal, state, and local levels, though it should be more like 17%. Head of household and two kids gives a total deduction of around $15000, so the HoH would be paying around 13% of the remaining income (10% of the first 12,750 and 15% of the rest) plus state and local. They would not be getting money back at $40,000.

      If they had a mortgage, add ~100 a month for property taxes and ~40 a month for homeowner’s insurance. If they’re renting, maintenance *should* be taken care of, but my experiences have varied.

      Unplanned medical expenses can be made in payments… which is still an unplanned expense. Childcare is widely held to range from 375 to 1200 a month depending on location, and I believe we’re at the very low end, so that’s what I used. Utility programs likely wouldn’t kick in at $40K a year, but I could be wrong.

      I commend you for getting by with what you have. I was homeless for a time in my late teens, then lived on $16,000 a year for a few years, so I understand the struggles a bit more clearly and I understand that there are ways to stretch a dollar far beyond my list above if you’re creative and have helpful resources to lean on.

      Now that I’m doing a good deal better, it pains me to see people attacking the impoverished as if they’re screwups mooching off the system, as I find that sort of attitude to be part of the reason they have such a hard time climbing out. Being supportive and encouraging as a society goes a long way toward helping people grow and reach that point of self-sustainability.

      • Pablo Jones

        Just a couple quick checks on tax estimators and it looks like a family of 4, 2 adults and 2 kids would get back about $2000 federally. That is in addition to whatever they paid. That would make up for whatever they would have paid state and locally.

        A mortgage payment for a $100,000 house would be around $650-750 including property taxes and insurance. In Elyria there are several nice starter homes that could be had for around $60,000 lowering their payments even more.

        As for Daycare, yes it is expensive if you go to a dedicated facility and use it all day. If parents are working different shifts and only need to use it for part of the day it makes it more affordable. Then there are several after school programs that are free or reduced for people at certain income levels. And if we are talking about a 2 parent household it may not even be necessary.

        For medical expense I’ve know several people that just never pay their portion. Those charges just go to collection and never get paid and they get written off. Is it right, no, but it happens.

        My comments were mainly towards the quote in the article that said how much they need for the basics which I felt was excessive. Do people struggle yes, I don’t deny that, and for the most part I don’t say anything. Unless they say how they are struggling, but can afford a smoking habit or a drinking habit, or have fancy cars, flat screen tvs. I’m not saying that is everyone, but when you see multiple examples of it, it does taint the over all picture.

        • http://comradealan.com/ Alan Pugh

          This post seems a lot more fair and less of an attack on the poor than your previous responses. Thank you for that.

          I did want to say that a $67K ($60K financed) house purchase in 2009 ran about $535 a month with property tax and homeowner’s insurance rolled in, though rates are far lower now if you have the % down payment and closing costs. Renting has become more expensive than buying due to the crash and rising demand for rentals. Just some food for thought.

          I agree that you can get by on far less, especially if you’re doing things like skipping out on hospital bills as you mentioned above. I took the article to mean ‘living comfortably’ as opposed to ‘getting by,’ which I find to be quite different. I don’t miss ‘getting by,’ but I feel for the people who are still there and trying to dig out.

  • Chris

    What are the common denominators here? Single mothers, limited income, limited education, limited earning potential, and a ruthless economy, which limits job opportunity. I am a single, childless woman with a net income of approx. $1630.00/mth. I live paycheck to paycheck and barely survive, without dependents, just solely struggling to take care of myself. I have a Bachelors degree. I could end up in the projects too if I continue to make the same amount of money I’m currently making, while getting pregnant without a husband, which would be a second income for the family. It’s called being proactive, not reactive. Planning ahead. Not making a bad situation worse. I understand that things happen, such as a loss of employment, which can lead to living in the projects, but the projects are not a place to “settle” in for anyone. If you cannot afford to live comfortably and put money away for emergency situations or possible loss of employment due to living paycheck to paycheck, why take the chance of getting “knocked up” in hopes of marrying your baby daddy later? Just goes to show….kids will not keep a man around and being a single mother is overbearingly difficult at times. Proactive…not reactive.

    • Mark

      take the daddy to court. He was half the problem, and contributed half
      to the pregnancy, so he should be paying half of the costs. If he is a
      real loww life (compared to being a loww life), he won’t work so he
      doesn’t have to pay… fine, no welfare for him. If he is unlazy enough
      to have (CT censorship removes this word… se x ), he is unlazy enough to work.
      Too many dads, well, male-cell donors, get off scott free. Like a crime,if you don’t want to do the time, don’t do the …

  • Laura Napier

    I have mixed emotions on this article and feel completely
    entitled to comment on it. I made horribly poor decisions in the beginning of
    my life which lead me addicted to drugs, a convicted felon, and homeless. By the grace of god I had one month of sobriety before I even conceived my first
    child. Even with my Elyria education I had enough sense to
    comprehend that my child shouldn’t have to suffer their whole life because I
    had made poor decisions. I never abused drugs again and overcame my addiction. I gave birth to my first child in January of 2005 and in August of 2005 I was enrolled in college. I worked full time for a temp service making minimum wage and I went to college full time because I knew time was of the essence. I alsohad my second child in July of 2006 but I never stopped working or going to
    college. (Try taking a CPR class when you’re 9 months pregnant!!!) Their father left in November of 2006 and I became a single mother. I did receive food stamps, medical care, daycare vouchers, and the Federal Pell Grant for the first 2 years of my education. I really felt ashamed to be on such things but I
    knew I was doing it for the right reasons. Other than that I paid for our rent, bills, and other needs. I tried to do whatever I could to stay self-sufficient. I felt
    bad that the tax payers were picking up the tap on my education and when I
    learn of a scholarship provided by the Cleveland Clinic to pay for my last year
    of school I applied and won it. (here is the link if you feel it could help
    you:http://portals.clevelandclinic.org/healthscienceseducation/ExploreTrainingPrograms/Scholarship/tabid/7246/Default.aspx)
    This scholarship also secured a guaranteed job for me as soon as I graduated. I graduated in May of 2008, started the Cleveland Clinic in July, and was off all
    public assistance by August 2008. In 3 years I broke the cycle of poverty for my family. I sacrificed everything of myself. I broke my drug addiction, overcame my felony conviction and worked full time, took upwards of 18-21 credit hours each semester, and raised my kids as a single mother.

    Some people would think that’s awesome but I wasn’t done
    yet. An associate’s degree was a great start but it wasn’t enough in my field of
    work. With one full-time job I was up to $35K/year, but as you can see from the
    article that wasn’t enough. I obtained another job in June of 2009 to cover the
    loose ends and have been working 2 jobs ever since. I went back to college in
    2010 to obtain my Bachelor degree. YES, I WORKED 60 HOURS A WEEK, WENT TO COLLEGE FULL-TIME, AND RAISED MY CHILDREN ALONE!!!! NO FINACIAL ASSITANCE WHATSO EVER!!!!!! This time I paid for my bachelor degree myself and graduated in 2012. The new degree doubled my income and now there are NO financial limits providing
    for my family. I’m still working the 2 jobs and I still haven’t stopped
    dreaming….If I overcame all this why stop here? I’m currently making preparations for a doctorates degree.

    Nevertheless, the American dream is in reach to
    all those who wish to obtain it. Regardless of your background or situation.
    100% of your density is made by your decisions. If you’re willing to work hard
    and make sacrifices you can achieve anything. I am proud for anyone who steps up to the plate and achieves and independent life style for their family but I believe the faster you can get it done the better. My children were too young
    to remember the poverty conditions we lived in and I am so grateful I had enough strength to do so. Poverty is such a despairing hopeless feeling that no child should ever have to experience. They’re completely innocent and should have to suffer from poor decisions that they didn’t even make. It absolutely breaks my heart to see children forced to live a poverty lifestyle that is primary
    self-inflected by their parents. From everything that I overcame I don’t see
    any excuse for anyone not to do better for their family.

    • Laura Napier

      The link didn’t open in the comment but this one should if not just google: Cleveland Clinic’s Robert D. Kruse Memorial Scholarship. http://portals.clevelandclinic.org/healthscienceseducation/ExploreTrainingPrograms/Scholarship/tabid/7246/Default.aspx

    • Mark

      Good for you. You turned your life around. Be proud.

      Now sue the low life for what he owes the kids.

    • Pablo Jones

      And if most people on government assistance did what you did they would be very few people against such programs. People would actually be willing to provide additional assistance if they were sure it would go to people like you and not wasted on others that aren’t trying to better themselves.

  • KZ14

    Simple solution stop having babies with dirt bags who can’t and won’t pay for them. Birth Control anyone?

    • Mark

      uh, not having, well, doing the act is 100% guaranteed birth control.

      • Chris

        Or using multiple forms of birth control at the same time, which is safe, such as gel, condoms, birth control pills. Doing so should eliminate the risk of pregnancy but you’re right…..by not making “amore”, there’s a 0% chance of pregnancy. Most of the people that live in Wilkes Villa cannot spell pregnancy let alone put forth an effort to prevent pregnancy.

    • hottamomma

      some dont know that they r dirtbags until the pregnancy.

    • Tabitha

      Don’t know that they’re dirtbags til after u have the baby and they leave you and the baby behind. I made the best of a bad situation. But yet people still think that I’m scum. What do I have to do to be “cool” like Mark or KZ14 or Derp. What do u do that allows you to judge me?

  • Mark

    long goodbye, or saying goodbye after a long stay?
    Wonder how much in money she puffed smoking those cigarettes… probably got them on the food stamp program anyway.

    • Tabitha

      Mark, I just want to say, especially to you, you’re one ignorant S O B

  • Mark

    Alan, thanks for the figures, but, no pun intended, you need to check your math. I doubt anyone is spending $750 a month in income taxes (my wife and I together don’t pay that a year).

    You mention utilities, then mention gas, electric… uh, those ARE utilities … I imagine though you meant water/sewer.
    I pray they are paying for car insurance, as odds are they are not.

    Overall though you do help explain it out. Many people have not sat down and written out a budget – step one is writing out what you currently spend. Goes quick.

    Add in renters/property insurance, property taxes (also know as “property rental” when you own a home; you buy a home, but not the land… you rent that), occassional car, of course cable and internet…

    • http://comradealan.com/ Alan Pugh

      Utilities are water, sewer and trash, as you mentioned. They run about 50 a month in Elyria, at least for me. Gas and electric are provided by Columbia Gas and Ohio Edison in Elyria (unless you’ve elected to switch through deregulation options). Just wanted to confirm and add clarity.

      You did add a couple of things I neglected to mention. My homeowner’s insurance and property taxes are rolled into my mortgage (FHA requirement) so I failed to think of those as separate expenses. I also neglected to add things such as cable or internet because–while I believe communication services are not luxury items per se–they are not necessities by any means.

      Thanks for bringing a rational voice to the debate.

  • Laura Napier

    I’ve ran into others in similar situations as mine and I tell them my story & offer ways that they too can succeed. Unfortunately you can always lead a horse to the water but it’s up to them to drink it. Honestly I’m appalled it took that long for her to get her family out. There are many affordable places for rent in Elyria at minimum wage earning and too many free opportunities for people to better themselves. I don’t understand why people do not take advantage of such great opportunities. Yes it is hard being a single mother, yes it does suck working full time and going to college but you only have to sacrifice a few years of your life to reap a life-time of rewards for both you and your family.

    Kids are #1 in my book. When you are blessed with such a rewarding responsibility you can no long live your life for yourself you have to live it for them. By law you are their legal guardian and you should do everything in your power to guard them from the negatives in this world. Poverty in the United States shouldn’t exist!!! There are enough educational opportunities and financial aid for everyone to succeed if they want too. People just make too many selfish excuses for themselves and unfortunately completely innocent children have to endure their parents poor decisions. In the end it has nothing to do with single motherhood, race, or economical disadvantages. It all comes down to the individual’s decisions. Am I going to sit here & do nothing or am I going to stand up and do everything I can for my family? I knew I had no other choice but to die trying to do everything I could too succeed. In the end I didn’t die and I exceeded far more then I ever expected in less then 1/2 a decade’s time….”A long goodbye to Wilkes Villa” was 10 years too long of unnecessary suffering to 3 innocent children. If I had the chance to meet Crabtree I would encourage her to keep moving one foot in front of the other in order to give her children the opportunities in life that they deserve. Moving out of Wilkes Villa should just be the beginning and I hope it doesn’t come to a short end.

    • Tabitha

      I’m the girl the article is about. And I’ve read the comments left by others and it makes me sick to my stomach. Nobody should worry about what I do in my life, if I want to smoke cigarettes, I’m allowed to. And I most certainly didn’t buy them with my food stamps. I don’t get food stamps because at $1900/month, I “supposedly” make too much money. Mark, I just want to say that anybody as ignorant as you, should never be allowed to say your opinions out loud. The article was supposed to show someone doing the right thing, who used government programs the way they were intended to be used. But according to the people who left comments, nobody seems to be impressed with what I’ve done. Did you, ignorant ones, remember that I have a special needs son who is autistic? My main focus the last 6 years was getting my son diagnosed. He was diagnosed less than a year ago and I then focused on getting us out of the projects. And for the people who left the comments about my kids’ father, I have taken him to court, I call child support every week getting updates about my case. When they find him, he’s going to prison on a felony warrant for not paying me child support. I do everything I’m supposed to, I pass along any info I have on him to child support whenever I hear something. And for the person who commented on my move to the trailer park, I don’t want or need the responsibilities or maintenance on a house. I’m a SINGLE woman, I can only do so much. So thank you, everyone, who ruined the satisfaction I felt from being chosen for this article. Makes me feel like I didn’t accomplish much at all

      • Sue

        Tabitha – keep your head held high and you won’t see the scum. You don’t know what it’s like to be a mother until you’ve been one (sorry men), you don’t know what it’s like to be a single mother until you’ve been one, and you don’t know what it’s like to be a mother to a special needs child until you’ve been one. Not only should they not dare to judge you, but they don’t even have the experience to do so. Keep up the good work, it’s admirable what you have done. <3

        • Tabitha

          Thank You! That’s exactly how I live my life. I try not to judge anyone. I’m pretty sure God says he’s the only One allowed to judge man and whoever is without sin casts the 1st stone. I just don’t understand people like Mark or Derp who go around living life so nasty and hateful and judgmental. Its not a life I would ever want to live. Maybe to some people I’ll never be anything more than project trash but I promise you, if u meet me, you would NEVER be able to tell I lived there. Coming out and telling people that I’ve lived in wilkes villa for 11 years was hard because almost no one knew that about me because it embarrassed me to tell people. But I decided to do the interview with Lisa because I felt it was important to let other girls know that its possible. Even with all the challenges I’ve faced over the years, not just with my son’s health problems but I have health problems of my own. I have fibromyalgia, which if you’ve never heard of, its a chronic pain and fatigue disease, which has made my life extremely difficult. But thru it all, I’ve held on to the belief that if you do things the right way and you work hard enough, anything is possible. So, for all you haters out there who look down on me, I’m glad you’re not a part of my life because I would never chose to be friends with someone like you.

  • Chris

    Take the baby daddy to court to make him contribute? That would be a great idea if most of the women living in the projects (and elsewhere) knew who their baby daddy truly is. Lol! Lorain County simply cannot afford that much DNA/paternity testing and Lord knows such women cannot afford to test several men. Do you honestly think any of the potential baby dads will fork up, out of pocket, money to pay for the testing? That’s such a shame!

    • Tabitha

      Chris – I just want to say to you, my last pregnancy (obviously hooked on phonics worked for me!) was conceived while I was on the pill. I took it faithfully, every day, never missed a pill, never took antibiotics and I get pregnant. My 2nd pregnancy was conceived while I was getting the depo shot. Not that its anybody’s business why I had my kids. But once I’m pregnant, I’m stuck with a kid because I don’t believe in abortion as a form of birth control. And I know who my baby daddies are. I’ve never done a paternity test for ANY of my kids, yet I know for a fact, without any doubt who the father of all 3 of my kids. Thank You Very Much! Now, tell me, Chris, are you POSITIVE you don’t have any kids out there that you don’t know about? Is it possible you could’ve gotten a 1 night stand pregnant? Yet men still feel the need to judge me about MY kids. At least I know how many I have, for sure. And I know who their dads are, guess I’m 1 ahead of you lol. P.S. Let me know when you wanna go against me in a spelling contest, its a guarantee I kick your A S S

  • Dixie Brown

    Congratulations! …I guess in the eyes of some, you are da**ed if you do and da**ed if you don’t! It’s truly disgusting how we have lost our humanity.