Wilbur Peck Court (photo credit, Greenwich Time)
Single mother of four, no skills, no education, receives free housing, education for those children, food, clothing and cash, but can’t find her favorite potato chips at Whole Foods. Oh, the humanity!
[Chelsea Squire] came to Greenwich in 2003, amid a construction bonanza in which mansions practically sprouted on top of each other. Fueling the frenzy was a hedge-fund boom that by 2005 had concentrated 10 percent control of the global industry’s trillion dollars in this town of 61,000.
The 28-year-old single mother and her four sons are part of the 4 percent of residents watching from the sidelines, from the roughly 760 units of low-income public housing scattered around Greenwich. Most were built in the 1940s and ’50s for soldiers returning from far-off war. Today, they’re supposed to be a refuge from economic battles.
Chelsea loves sending her kids to Greenwich schools. She loves how the classrooms are filled with technology and textbooks instead of youth gangs. She enjoys her chance encounters around town with the likes of Regis Philbin, whom she once met at CVS. “Hi, how are you?” he said with a smile.
But Greenwich can also alienate. Last year, when about 50 homes sold for more than $5 million each, Chelsea struggled to pay her $50-a-month rent [which she’s behind on – Ed]. She hates how some residents seem too high up the economic ladder to notice how hard she and people like her struggle to get by.
With the holidays nearing, she finds herself in one of the darkest chapters of her adulthood. Hoping to cheer herself, she hangs a wreath from her faded front door. She puts up a tree in her sparsely decorated living room, beside her second-hand, half-broken couch. Then she frets.
That is all the Christmas spirit she can afford.
To explain how she got here, how she can get up to $650 in monthly food stamps, but can’t find her favorite potato chips at Whole Foods, she has to recall her childhood.
I’d be more interested in hearing how she plans to get out of her miserable existence, but that’s not discussed. All we really need to know about “how she got here” is found in this one sentence:
They didn’t exactly plan it, but after Keith moved in, they had three sons together inside of four years: K’den, Collin and Knowa.
“Didn’t exactly plan it”? Oh, if only Mitt Romney hadn’t taken away that free birth control for this poor woman, then she could have planned. But for Greenwich Time and its “editors”, poverty like that being experienced by Chelsea Squire is a phenomenon that just arrives, no known cause, so instead they focus on that old fourth-grade writing task, “compare and contrast”, which these days passes for insightful reporting:
Back in the car, she steers downhill, beneath the train tracks and highway, to where the salty air hangs over the water. She drives past the Delamar Greenwich Harbor hotel, rising in all its Mediterranean splendor like it’s in the south of France. She drives past brick condos that fetch millions of dollars. Parks near the Indian Harbor Yacht Club. Climbs out and walks to the edge of a rocky pier jutting into Long Island Sound.
To her left, crowning another peninsula, is a $27 million mansion, with stately balconies, tall porticoes and a colonnade with landscaping descending on an even carpet of grass to the sapphire surf. For a moment, she stands there, staring at it.
“If I ever get married,” she says, “I want to get married there.”
Then her cellphone rings.
I’d write more, but my own cellphone is ringing. Perhaps it’s Chelsea.
UPDATE: A Stamford Advocate reader took the trouble to check out the criminal histories of Chelsea and the father of three of her children. Oops!