Listen to Adel's story. Audio Producer: Natasha Del Toro

The remains of Adel White Dog’s trailer, which burned down earlier that day due to an electrical fire that destroyed most of their belongings, except a family photo album Ramona, Adel’s daughter, found in the rubble. Adel, a dishwasher who supported her family on a minimum-wage salary at a local restaurant, lived in the trailer with her two daughters and grandchildren. Adel says even though it was condemned and the windows were all boarded up, “That’s what I owned. That’s the only thing I owned, the only thing I could call home.” It’s not the first time this happens to her. A few years ago, Adel lived in another trailer that caught fire, killing two of her grandchildren. This time, luckily, no one was hurt. One of her daughters, seventeen-year-old Ramona Three Legs, was at a pregnancy check-up when the fire broke out. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) donates condemned trailers to Native Americans in an attempt to solve the housing shortage on the reservation. Since the latest incident, the Tribal Housing Authority has relocated Adel’s family to another FEMA trailer.

  • Adel White Dog's grandchildren sleep in front of the burnt trailer as the family waits for help to arrive.

  • Ramona Three Legs stands in the remains of her family's burnt trailer. She was a pregnancy check up when the fire happened.

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"Secretiveness is especially common among welfare recipients, almost all of whom have non-welfare income that they conceal from the welfare departments."

- Making Ends Meet: How Single Mothers Survive Welfare and Low-Wage Work, by Kathryn Edin and Laura Lein