Poverty Makes Tulare County California’s Welfare Capital as presented by: Los Angeles Times

As the California Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown cutting billions of dollars in government services to help balance the state budget, nowhere are the effects likely to be felt more deeply than in Tulare County. It has become the Golden State’s welfare capital. Nearly a quarter of the population in this Central Valley agricultural region lives in poverty, and one in three residents receives state aid. Unemployment – among the highest in the state – remains on the rise. Local officials fear that residents already pushed into poverty might now tumble into homelessness. For Patricia Dickerson, a mother of five who has been unable to find work since losing her job two years ago, another reduction in her monthly welfare check could mean a shutoff of her electricity. Last week, she clutched a romance novel while waiting in a line at a county welfare office. At home, a stack of letters from the state has gone unread. “My fantasy,” she said, holding up the book. “I don’t like to read bad news right now.” Terry Dickerson, 4, crawls down a hallway on her way to bed. She shares a bed with her mother and sister. Mark Dickerson puts up a sheet over the front windows as daughters Koreena, Terry and Keera play before bedtime.

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