STONE MOUNTAIN, Ga. — Brianna Butler would prefer never again to see the inside of the DeKalb County welfare office. She is eager to work. This she says repeatedly.
But she is a 19-year-old single mother with no one to look after her 10-month-old daughter, making work essentially beyond reach. Reluctantly, she has turned to an alternative that might at least provide minimal sustenance: She is applying for monthly $235 welfare checks from the state of Georgia.
Butler is eligible for those checks. Officially, she is homeless and has no income. Most nights, she sleeps on the floor at her mother’s house in this predominantly African-American suburb of Atlanta, where 1 in 5 people live in poverty. Her mother is out of work and behind on her bills. When Butler runs out of money for baby food, she gives her daughter nothing but “water or juice for a day or two,” she says, “just to tide her over.”