One Crisis Away | KERA News

One Crisis Away

KERA’s One Crisis Away project focuses a spotlight on North Texans living on the financial edge both in weekly stories and regular in-depth series.

A scene from West Dallas near Singleton Boulevard.
Credit Allison V. Smith / KERA News special contributor

A job loss, health emergency, even legal trouble can be enough to plunge a third of our friends and neighbors into financial distress. One Crisis Away puts a human face on asset poverty and the financial struggles of people in Dallas-Fort Worth.  

Explore multimedia projects: No Place To Go, a deep dive into affordable housing and gentrification in West Dallas; Rebuilding A Life, a series about North Texans recovering from devastating tornadoes; Drowning In Debt, stories about and resources for living with financial burden; and more.

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A minimum-wage worker can’t afford a two-bedroom apartment in Texas – or anywhere else in the country.

That’s the conclusion of an annual study from the National Low Income Housing Coalition. Out of Reach 2014 analyzed wages and rental costs across the country.

In Texas, a minimum-wage worker would have to work 93 hours a week to afford a two-bedroom rental. The minimum wage is $7.25 in Texas – or $15,080 a year for a 40-hour workweek.

Dane Walters / KERA News

One in three North Texans can’t weather a financial storm that lasts 90 days. The problem's known as asset poverty, and it doesn't discriminate. A job loss, health emergency, even legal trouble is enough to plunge a third of our friends and neighbors into financial distress. 

KERA's series One Crisis Away is following four North Texas families on the financial edge.

On March 27, a one-hour special will air on KERA-TV, Channel 13, that features these families and explores asset poverty. The special will air again on Channel 13 at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. March 30 and 11 p.m. April 8.

The special was taped in front of a live audience at the Dallas City Performance Hall. We livestreamed the event -- we've posted the video below.

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There are a lot of non-profit organizations in Texas devoted to financial assistance and low income programs designed to give people a leg up. As KERA continues to explore life on the financial edge through our new series One Crisis Away, we’ll compile a list of places where people can go to find help.

Meet The Man Trying To Battle Poverty In Dallas

Feb 25, 2014

Earlier this month, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings announced the formation of a task force to fight poverty in the city. As part of KERA’s One Crisis Away initiative, Think host Krys Boyd talked about how Dallas will take on the challenge with Larry James, the man the mayor chose to lead the task force.

Doualy Xaykaothao / KERA News

Isac Madrid, the 25 year-old Rockwall man featured in KERA’s series One Crisis Away, was laid to rest Monday. Over the past few months, he shared his family’s story about the challenges of facing both a health and financial crisis.

Leaving behind a devoted wife, young son and large extended family, Monday’s service was filled with people who loved Isac.

Wayne Stadler / Flickr

The numbers are staggering: One of every six Texans lives below the poverty line. One in three has no savings account. Two of every three have a sub-prime credit rating. Those numbers, and the real-life people they represent, are what propels Woody Widrow.

Widrow is executive director of Raise Texas, a nonprofit network of organizations focused on helping people build financial stability. As part of the KERA series One Crisis Away, he sat down for a Friday Conversation.

Dane Walters / KERA News

One in three North Texans can’t weather a financial storm that lasts 90 days. The problem's known as asset poverty, and it doesn't discriminate. A job loss, health emergency, even legal trouble is enough to plunge a third of our friends and neighbors into financial distress. 

KERA's series One Crisis Away is following four North Texas families on the financial edge. A health crisis sent the Madrid family of Rockwall into a financial crisis. Shirley Martin of DeSoto is a retiree who's struggling to make ends meet. Natalie Berquist of Lewisville is a single mom who faced homelessness after losing a job. And despite being frugal, the Dory family of White Settlement struggles with credit card debt.

Meet these families and explore their stories in our KERA News Digital Storytelling Project.

Dane Walters / KERA News

The importance of a steady job and careful budgeting is something a lot of people discover as adults. And that discovery is often made after financial disaster strikes.

That’s not the tune playing in the Dory household. KERA's series One Crisis Away spotlights the one in three North Texans who don’t have enough money in the bank to survive 90 days after a financial disruption.

J.C. and Schnique Dory are raising her two kids to respect money now so they don’t get into trouble later. The message seems to be sticking.

KERA's series One Crisis Away looks at four families on the financial edge. In this profile, Schnique Dory's two children, Jaelyn and Schnthia, share their perspective on saving, spending and seeking employment. The kids, 13 and 11, live with Schnique and her husband, J.C., in the Fort Worth suburb of White Settlement. Read their story here.

Elizabeth Madrid / Facebook

Twenty-five year old Isac Madrid, the Rockwall man featured in KERA's series One Crisis Away, died Thursday. He was 25.

He suffered from a rare disease that caused toxins to build up in his blood and attack his liver. Isac died from complications related to his second bone marrow transplant.

KERA's series One Crisis Away looks at four families on the financial edge. Shirley Martin is a 72 year-old woman living in Desoto and still working 19 hours a week to make ends meet. She says in order to juggle bills and her mortgage, it's a necessary part of life.

Dane Walters / KERA News

Most of us don’t expect to work into our 70s, but many North Texans don’t have a choice.

Take Shirley Martin, one of the people we’re following in our series One Crisis Away. Shirley, like almost half of all Texans, doesn’t have enough money in savings to survive a financial emergency for three months.

Bouncing Back: What Do You Do After Getting A Pink Slip?

Feb 7, 2014

Even as the economy rebounds from recession, we’re still stuck in one of the worst job markets in history. So what’s a worker to do after receiving a pink slip?

As part of KERA’s One Crisis Away initiative, 'Think' host Krys Boyd talked with Dwain Schenck, a journalist who’s been there and come out the other side.

His new book is Reset: How to Beat the Job-Loss Blues and Get Ready for Your Next Act (De Capo).

VIDEO: The Dory Family Stays On Budget And On Track

Feb 5, 2014

KERA's series One Crisis Away looks at four families on the financial edge. In this profile, Schnique and J.C. Dory, a married couple raising two kids in suburban Fort Worth, talk about past brushes with poverty and homelessness. Hear how those experiences have shaped their financial habits.

Dane Walters / KERA News

Schnique and J.C. Dory run a tight financial ship. That’s because they both grew up poor and she had a brush with homelessness.

Even though both are steadily employed, they, like half of all Texans, don’t have enough cash on hand to last more than 90 days after an emergency.

As a part of our series One Crisis Away, the Dory family explains how their past and questions about the future shape their spending habits.

A new study shows that nearly 50 percent of Texans don’t have enough cash available to stay above the poverty line for three months after a financial emergency. As part of KERA’s One Crisis Away initiative, Think host Krys Boyd examines why the numbers have jumped since the last scorecard was released with Andrea Levere, president of the Corporation for Enterprise Development.

Dane Walters / KERA News

When you don’t have a decent savings account or wiggle room in your budget, sometimes all it takes is an expense you haven’t planned for to push you over the financial edge. That’s reality for one in three North Texans, and that’s what just happened to Natalie Berquist.

The single mom living in Lewisville is one of the people we’re following in our series One Crisis Away. Natalie has a steady job, but because of a new monthly bill, she’s giving up her apartment.

KERA's series One Crisis Away looks at four families on the financial edge. Natalie Berquist is a single mom living in Lewisville. She had been staying in a one bedroom apartment with her son Samuel, but an expense she hadn't planned for means she can no longer afford her rent, and has to move out.

Dane Walters / KERA News

Just because you have a decent job, house and car doesn’t mean you’re financially set. Just ask Schnique and JC Dory, a White Settlement couple raising two kids.

They both have steady jobs, their home is pristine and there’s food on the table each night. But they’re constantly beating back debt, and are among the one in three North Texans who can’t last more than 90 days after a financial emergency.

That’s the focus of our series One Crisis Away. The Dorys keep their family on track with financial planning and faith.

KERA's series One Crisis Away looks at four North Texas families on the financial edge. In this profile, meet the Dory family. Schnique and JC are raising two kids in White Settlement. Even though they have steady jobs and a nice house, they're constantly beating back debt and working to curb their spending.

Dollars And Sense: How Can We Build A Better Nest Egg?

Jan 15, 2014

The new year is a time when we assess our lives, including our finances.

As part of KERA’s One Crisis Away initiative, certified financial planners Thomas E. Murphy and Crystal Billing appeared on "Think" to discuss what we're doing right and how we can better build that nest egg.

There’s more information about financial planning – and how you can select the financial planner who’s right for you – at the Financial Planning Association of Dallas Fort Worth website.

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Financial overhaul is a popular New Year’s resolution, right up there with starting a work-out regimen or changing your diet.

When you want to change your spending habits, where do you start? As part of KERA's One Crisis Away series, Courtney Collins talks about making a plan that actually works with a financial education coordinator, Leilani Lim-Villegas with the Texas Department of Banking.

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It's not just the pursuit of more money that can buy unhappiness. We could be funding our misery with the hard-earned cash we already have. 

Elizabeth Dunn, associate professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, studied how spending habits bear on quality of life for her book "Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending." We revisit her conversation with Krys Boyd at noon on KERA 90.1 FM for our series "Best of Think 2013."

UTA

When your neighbor buys a new car, your brother closes on a five-bedroom house and your boss brags about his trip to the Greek islands, it’s hard not to compare your life to theirs.

As part of our series One Crisis Away, which spotlights North Texans on the economic edge, here's a look at our compulsion to keep up.

Where's The Affordable Housing In Dallas?

Dec 24, 2013
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An investigation by the federal government into Dallas’ affordable housing practices has found that the city violates civil rights laws. This hour, Krys Boyd examined what the allegations say about Dallas with Scott Griggs, vice chairman of the Dallas City Council housing committee, and Ken Smith, who leads the Revitalize South Dallas Coalition.

KERA's series One Crisis Away looks at four families on the financial edge. In the video below, meet Natalie Berquist and her 4-year-old son, Samuel. Natalie was laid off late last year, and even though she was only unemployed for about a month, she's still digging out of the financial hole.

Dane Walters / KERA News

Unemployment is one of the most forbidding words in the English language. If you don’t have money socked away for emergencies, it doesn’t matter if you’re out of work for a year, losing a job can wreck your finances.

Meet Natalie Berquist. The Lewisville mother of two lost her job late last year. Even though she found another in less than a month, she faced homelessness and is still digging out of the financial hole.

Natalie’s story is the latest in our series One Crisis Away, a look at the one in three North Texans who have almost no financial cushion.

In an ideal world, senior citizens will have saved enough to comfortably retire. But with pensions disappearing and health care costs soaring, the golden years are becoming increasingly difficult. As part of KERA’s One Crisis Away initiative, Krys Boyd talks with Senior Source executive director Molly Bogen and Dallas Area Agency on Aging director Millie DeAnda about the financial challenges seniors face.

Dane Walters / KERA News

Chasing an energetic 1-year-old, balancing shaky finances and managing a rare disease is a tall order for any family. But it’s reality for Isac and Elizabeth Madrid, a Rockwall couple we’re featuring in our series One Crisis Away.

Like many North Texans, Isac and Elizabeth were living a typical middle class life, until a medical emergency knocked them off their feet.

Now, each day is a battle that starts at Baylor Medical Center.

KERA's series One Crisis Away looks at four families on the financial edge. Isac Madrid suffers from a rare illness that makes it impossible for him to work and support his wife Elizabeth and 1-year-old son. He's already had a liver transplant and received his second bone marrow transplant on Nov. 11.

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