Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Four years ago, Rush, 26, struggled to support three children, "running into a lot of temporary jobs, dead-end jobs, not making any cash - it was just like a dead-end street," he said.
At one of those jobs Rush suffered a thumb injury that had his doctors talking about amputation, which didn't happen.
"I was going into debt, I almost lost my house, I had to take off work eight weeks - I'm (saying), like, 'This factory work isn't gonna get it,'" he said.
But Rush's fortunes changed after joining YouthBuild, which is run by Michigan Works of Berrien Cass and Van Buren counties. YouthBuild is now part of the Bridge Academy, which opened last fall at 777 Riverview Drive, Benton Harbor.
The academy is a year-round alternative school for anyone 16 and over who is looking to complete their general education diploma or high school diplomas, Chief Education Officer Chris Fielding said.
Those who finish the program gain the job and life skills they need to function while making the transition to a better career.
"Employers are going, 'Please take direction, be part of a team, don't argue with everybody and be on time,'" Fielding said. "As a work force development organization, we have that opportunity to instill those skills."
Rush has seen that example play out in his life.
He works for Shelton Construction, which has taken him to major projects like the carousel restoration at Silver Beach and the Harbor Shores clubhouse.
The numbers are astounding. The average wealth of a white family in 2009 was 20 times greater than that of the average black family, and 18 times greater than the average Hispanic family. In other words, the average white family had $113,149 in net worth, compared to $6,325 for Hispanics and $5,677 for blacks.
That's the largest gap since the government began collecting the data a quarter of a century ago, and twice what it was before the start of the Great Recession.
Real Estate Downturn
Rakesh Kochhar, one of the authors of the report, says white households went into the recession in a much stronger position and, as a result, were better able to weather the storm.
One reason was investment in real estate. Minority families had most of their wealth in their homes, so when the housing bubble burst, Kochhar says, those households took a bigger hit.
"Especially Hispanics, for example. Sixty-six percent of their net worth derives from home equity," Kochhar says. "And they are concentrated geographically in parts of the country such as California, Arizona, Florida and Nevada, where the housing downturn was most severe."
The result is that the average Hispanic family lost two-thirds of its wealth between 2005 and 2009, according to the Pew report. Black families lost more than half of theirs.www.npr.org/2011/07/26/138688135/study-shows-racial-wealth-gap-grows-wider