Page last updated at 08:12 GMT, Wednesday, 22 October 2008 09:12 UK
Financial crisis: World round-up



Bruce Richall is an IT consultant based in the affluent Connecticut suburb of Westport. He describes how the loss of his job at a multinational bank triggered a rapid spiral into poverty. Having depleted his savings and unable to afford rent, he now sleeps in the back of his car.


In the back of my mind, I hoped it wouldn't happen to me.

I saw bank workers being escorted off the property, clutching their boxes. It was very chilling to witness departing co-workers.

The bank where I worked had already undergone a series of lay-offs in the previous months.

Row of cars in carpark

I really liked my job and wanted to keep it. I joined in February, and having worked for many years as an IT contractor - with its inherent instability - this position offered the potential of a full-time position. It could become a "secure" job.

But when security guards made simple, routine rounds through the cubes and offices, people would look up from their desks.

There would be a sigh of relief as the guards kept going.

I never thought it would ever come down to this, but here I am - homeless
But it didn't happen this time. On a Friday, my manager came to my desk. Usually he came by to ask me if I could put in some overtime. But, just by the look on his face, I could tell. This wasn't an overtime request. This is it, I said to myself.

Sure enough, I was told that my last day would be the end of the month.

Though I didn't show it outwardly, I was devastated.

The former home of Martha Stewart, in Westport, Connecticut
Westport is home to many of the US' most well-heeled citizens
I would have another month before leaving so that I could start yet another job search. I immediately contacted my agency to let them know that the assignment would be ending.

My last day at the bank was bitter-sweet. There was a cake and a card. We joked but inside I was truly frightened. I asked myself what would happen to me now, in such a difficult job market? Would I become homeless?

At the end of my last day, my manager came downstairs with me. We had a cigarette and talked.

"Bruce, if I can get you back here, you know I will," he said. His words were kind and well-intentioned.

My life today has changed dramatically since my brief tenure with the bank.

Now I'm facing a very uncertain future.


I now sleep in the back of my car, while I wait for a bed to become available at the shelter. I call it The Hotel Honda


I'm no longer collecting a nice pay check, going to work every day and returning home at night. I'm no longer a part of the team I so enjoyed working with.

Months passed as my savings gradually dwindled. I was only collecting a small unemployment check from a low paying "between-jobs" job that I had prior to signing on with the bank.

I had to move from my apartment, put my belongings in storage and find a homeless shelter.

I now sleep in the back of my car, while I wait for a bed to become available at the shelter. I call it The Hotel Honda.

What galls me the most is that about one third of my income is taxed. I'm taxed on what I earn and taxed on what I spend

I keep a good suit and a dress shirt in the back of the car for interviews. I tell recruiters that I'm working.

This is not the life I imagined for myself when I graduated from university. I never thought it would ever come down to this, but here I am - homeless.

Unlike the Europeans, we in the US don't have much of a social safety net.

My meagre unemployment income is too high to let me qualify for Social Services, yet far too inadequate to pay for my home, food, car, utilities and health insurance.

HAVE YOUR SAY
I experienced the same thing years ago. It does something to you when you live out of your car and have nothing. I will forever be changed by it.
Robert, Wisconsin, USA

I have hypertension, yet I can't afford a doctor, the emergency room or vital medication. I need a corrective eye surgery that I can't afford. Even routine check-ups are out of reach.

My meals are taken at a soup kitchen. This is poverty.

What galls me the most is that about one third of my income is taxed. I'm taxed on what I earn and taxed on what I spend.

Now that I'm in need there is nowhere to turn.

Nobody is helping me except for my contributions to my unemployment account.

Yet our leaders have found a way to bail out the very institutions that have put myself, and others, at risk.





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