Listen to Dakeia and her mother Patrina. Audio Producer: Sarah P. Reynolds

Dakeia Johnson and her daughter Jes-Zahre live with Dakeia’s mother in the Upper Ninth Ward in New Orleans. During Hurricane Katrina, a helicopter rescued the family off the roof of their floating home. Through “sweat labor”, they purchased a new house from an organization, but fear the home has toxic drywall like other homes built in the community. Dakeia earned a college degree in biology, but can barely make ends meet working as a substitute teacher. She says she takes anti-depressants to cope with her financial stress and grief after her brother was shot and killed by gunfire last year.

  • Dakeia Johnson and her daughter Jes-Zahre on the front porch of their upper Ninth Ward home.

  • Patrina Peters, Dakeia's mother, and her granddaughter Jes-Zahre in their home.

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"Included in this group [the underrclass] are individuals who lack training and skills and either experience long-term unemployment or are not members of the labor force, individuals who are engaged in street crime and other forms of aberrant behavior, and families that experience long-term spells of poverty and/or welfare dependency."

- The Truly Disadvantaged: The Inner City, the Underclass, and Public Policy, by William Julius Wilson

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