Telling truth to power: Greenwich Time exposes poverty right here in River City

Wilbur Peck Housing Court (photo credit, Greenwich Time)

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!

jackfrost_ct

64 Comments

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64 responses to “Telling truth to power: Greenwich Time exposes poverty right here in River City

  1. libertarian advocate

    I’m beginning to think that “reporters” at the level of Tim Loh aren’t in fact agendized, they’re just dumb as rocks.

    • TheWizard

      They’re both. Double whammy.

      • dogwalker

        I can’t figure who is dumber – Chelsea for letting herself get interviewed when her only intention seems to be to take advantage of her fellow taxpaying citizens or Tim for writing this article that seems to be aimed at culling sympathy for people like Chelsea, when she really represents much of what is wrong with the entitlement class, and gets the blood boiling even in a relative liberal like me!

  2. D

    All one has to do is google the guy who wrote this awful piece to see where it comes from…

    http://www.ctpost.com/loh/

    And on linkedin:
    Columbia University – Graduate School of Journalism
    Master’s degree, Journalism
    2008 – 2009

    The only thing that surprises me here is the adjective used to describe Long Island Sound surf.

  3. Cos Cobber

    This reporter is yet another moron hired to gather the ‘news’ and ask the right questions.

  4. Walt

    Dude –
    This cub reporter did ask all the wrong questions, and the article really did suffer as a result. This could have been an interesting read. Do you want to know the questions I would have asked Chelsea? Of course you do!!

    Why did you name your kids K’den, Zaire, and Knowa? Was it to ensure they too would never be successful? You named the other kid Collin. Was that to punish him, and make him feel weird? Or is he black Irish?

    Did it ever occur to you that if you don’t know cars need oil changes, maybe you shouldn’t own one?

    Did you but a Cadillac just to perpetuate the stereotype, or do you just enjoy pissing away money on gas?

    How much money do you spend on lottery tickets and tattoos?

    Do you blame your problems on your own poor choices, or just blame the white man?

    Was Regis buying Depends at CVS? Did he use a CVS Discount card?

    Did you ever think shopping at Whole Foods may not be a good idea if you can’t pay your $50 per month rent? Just sayin.

    Is that an Obamaphone?

    I have more, but that is a start, and would have resulted in a better story.
    Your Pal,
    Walt

    • vitabrevis

      W’alt,
      Let me help you with two ebonical translations…
      K’den = Cayden or perhaps Caden
      Knowa = Noah

    • vitabrevis

      W’alt,
      I almost forgot….
      Chelsea Squire = Entitled, perpetual victim enabled by various government entities and feckless “reporters” like Tim Loh.

  5. Old Coot

    There is so much wrong with this article it’s hard to enumerate its faults. But,
    1. The author wants to have sympathy for a woman who bears children like a rabbit yet expects others to pay for her.
    2. There’s no mention of how she pays for gasoline and car insurance, both expensive.
    3. Rather than feel blessed that she’s got a roof over her head at a mere $50/mo, she complains about its corridors and noise.
    4. What exactly brought Chelsea to Greenwich in 2003? The article would let us believe it had to do with the construction boom but she’s not a stone mason or electrician.

    With so much government help and a mindset that all she has is not enough, there’s no hope for Chelsea to improve herself. The article expects us to open our wallets and help her when in the real world, Chelsea would want to pull HERSELF up. That the author glorifies Chelsea’s lifestyle and welfare soaking attitude is mind-numbingly scary and distressing.

  6. Anonymous

    Maybe I missed it, but I didn’t see the word “marriage” anywhere in this article about this mother of 4.

    • dogwalker

      Yeah, you did miss it. She said that IF she does get married some day, she wants it to be at DeLaMar.

  7. Kay

    She lives for $50 a month? Where else in the country can you live for $50 a month? She should count her lucky stars. I did not sympathize with her for a moment in this article. It is really tough when you choose to have a kid at 16 instead of getting an education. She is the perfect example of a person who has taken little responsiblility in her life and who sucks up our tax dollars.

    • Rivman

      That is the pathetic part. I pity her too but the lack of taking any responsibility for her life is the reason she is where she is. Once she had the first kid she could have still gone back to school but no, lets have more children. With an increased check for every kid, why not.

  8. She struggles to pay $50 a month for rent, but her sticky budget shows $150 a month for cable? When we hit a financial bump a couple of years ago, we downgraded to basic cable and internet and paid about half of that. I guess TV is more important than shelter to her.

  9. vitabrevis

    For years I’ve wondered which lucky constituents subsidize the low income housing here….is it Greenwich taxpayers alone or do we get to share this load with CT and/or Fed taxpayers?

  10. Anonymous

    yet these people exist. and it’s far worse in other cities and towns across this ‘great’ nation.

    we can pretend that they don’t exist or at least acknowledge the collective failings of our modern society.

    it’s easy to make fun of the less than well to do and even I admittedly enjoy a bit of schadenfreude.

    c’mon chris (and your bored suburban readers), stop perpetuating the stereotype of the curmudgeonly (and a little bit racist) greenwich white man that’s never lived anywhere else.

    • we can … at least acknowledge the collective failings of our modern society.

      Seems to me that it’s Chelsea who failed society by being an irresponsible human being, rather than the other way around.

    • dogwalker

      Did you read the article, Anon? Stereotype? What stereotype? It’s a real life person. I’m one of the few left-leaning around here, but this gets me going. Can’t ignore them? Who’s ignore them? Who can ignore them? I just finalized all my tax returns. It’s ridiculous! I still don’t have even basic cable because I really can’t justify the expense . . . because my taxes are so high paying for irresponsibility.

  11. Kay

    The Greenwich Time also forgot to mention that Chelsey has been in the Police Blotter! http://greenwichroundup.blogspot.com/2011_09_30_archive.html

  12. Anonymous

    Chris, you nailed it with the many aspects of what is wrong with this story. I think this one article captures what is wrong in America today—from one side of the country to the other. Is it any wonder we have more people on food stamps than ever before in history.

    Walt—loved your questions, too!

  13. State as parent

    she could give her kids up to the state to raise while she attends a community college.

    there are plenty of floors to wash last I looked.

  14. Inagua

    Does anyone else think that a runaway who gets in fights, drops out of school at 15, gives birth at 16, and names the kid Zaire should be offered a tubal ligation? I understand the argument against abortion, but why should women like Chelsey be encouraged to continue to breed? Why is there no Sterilization Advocacy Group?

    • Libertarian Advocate

      Inagua: The Progs would say publicly that sterilization is tantamount to genocide. Privately, they all understand that if their constituents took up such an offer, they might quickly run out of constituents, and, therefore, power.

      • Inagua

        LA – Good point. The same dynamic can be seen in “comprehensive immigration reform,” otherwise known as amnesty. The Left is pretty good at creating more Leftist supporters.

    • There was-the forerunner of the modern liberal/democrat party was the Progressive Movement, which continues to this day under its name change (in fact, liberals, tired of being tagged “liberals”, have gone back to calling themselves “progressives”).
      Forced sterilization of the poor and mentally defective was a primary goal of the Progressives (Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, was a vocal proponent). The idea was dropped after Hitler gave it a bad name.

      • Inagua

        Chris — I am asking for the offer of voluntary sterilization, not a return to the Oliver Wendell Holmes “three generations of imbeciles is enough” mandatory standard, although I suspect that Chelsey has just given us a third generation of undesirables.

      • dogwalker

        No, it wasn’t dropped after Hitler gave it a bad name, it was hidden.

        But I really do not understand the objections to Margaret Sanger around here.

  15. Kay

    This article is a waste of ink (and its primarily delivered electronically)

  16. anonymous

    Poor thing has a Cadillac purchased used. I think Greenwich should upgrade her to a Lexus. No one drives American cars.

  17. Walt

    Dude –
    I have a great idea. Chelsey will be a great interview for the Fountain of Hope™. It will show we are caring about social issues, plus she is local. And she will probably agree to do it for a scratch off lottery ticket, which you can clip from Francis, so it will be cheap.

    You must know where the Wilbur Peck Court is, right? They couldn’t come up with a better name than that? Put on your hoodie, go over there, and book her for tomorrow at noon. Let’s do it at the Del Mar, to show the dichotomy of Greenwich today. No worries, I will have them comp us lunch for the plug.

    A few more interview questions for you to practice:

    Chelsey, have you ever heard the term “personal responsibility”?

    If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything?

    How big is your flat screen TV?

    Aren’t the shrimp from Whole Foods delicious? How many pounds do you go through a month?

    You speak of your desire to get married someday. Are you meeting many men who want to marry a single mother of four? And do you think Greenwich is the best place to accomplish this objective? And wouldn’t it have been better to get married before popping out all those kids?

    Do you think all your problems are caused by the fact that you have never been a slave? And no one you know, or have ever met, has ever been a slave?

    Do you know what oral sex is? You may want to give it a whirl.

    Why do you use your vagina as a Pez dispenser for fatherless children?

    Do you have an obligation to society, or does society have an obligation to you? Why?

    Where do you buy your take out BBQ? I really want to know the answer to this Dude, because the last place you sent me to sucked.

    What’s your favorite thing to shoplift from CVS? You may want to consider condoms.

    Yes or no question – which do you like better? R&B or Rap? And why?

    You may have to pick her up if she hasn’t gotten the oil in the Caddy changed.
    Your Pal,
    Walt

  18. anonymous

    I would still rather have lunch with Chelsey than Monica Noel.

  19. Greedy Bastard

    Little known fact #1:

    “Walt” is the nom de plume of Chelsea Squire…

    Little known fact #2:

    Rich people eat tacos…

    Little known fact #3:

    $650 does not go very far at Whole Foods

    Little known fact #4

    $650 goes rather far at Shop Rite

    Little known fact #5

    Rich people also shop at Shop Rite. That’s how they stay rich.

  20. AJ

    Whoa! What a story. From all the photos taken in mid-summer, it looks like they’ve been working on it for almost a year. If someone came to me with that story (or did they seek her out), the first thing I would have asked is are you sure that’s the story you want to tell? Why would you want to present yourself as a total loser, rather than someone with a future just suffering a temporary setback. She claimed to be employed, at least for a short time, cleaning houses. So why doesn’t she put together a house cleaning business, in time she could hire others to do the cleaning while she’s busy finding new clients and keeping the books. She could even incorporate and pay herself a low enough salary to keep her fifty dollar a month rent.

    My favorite part was where she had to suffer the noise of the thruway. I rented in that neighborhood (central Greenwich) for a while and had to suffer that same noise and it cost me a hell of a lot more than fifty dollars a month — after a while you don’t even notice it. I also liked the part where she worries about the kids hanging out on Greenwich Avenue — sort of like worrying about the kids hanging out on Beverly Hill’s Rodeo Drive. What’s with the sapphire surf? Has somebody been taking acid? I always found the water at the end Steamboat Road to be a muddy grayish green. And since when is Commodore Benedict’s place worth only twenty seven million? I think the place was up for sale about thirty years ago for twenty million.

    This is a pathetic story, but what’s even more pathetic is that a newspaper would print it. Someone needs do this woman a favor and get her a copy of Tony Robbins’ Personal Power. That would be a good place to start. I think they’re going for twenty to thirty dollars, used on e-bay.

    • Inagua

      LA – My favorite part was, “Took out $23,000 in loans to study office management at Gibbs College in Norwalk.” How does a high school drop out get into college? And who loans her $23,000?

      • AJ

        She should have gone for a GED: I think they loan you the text books and just charge a small fee for taking the test, then she could have taken vocational classes in state sponsored college (something like SUNY in NY) — as opposed to a vocational school set up as a money making business — for a lot less (I think many even have no high school diploma requirement for vocational classes and programs). Seems to me, this is the type of person who finds themselves destitute, then somehow manages to scrape up a few thousand dollars for an up front fee on a loan that never materializes. The type of person who thinks the answer to any problem is to throw money at it. Hell, you can have a million dollars in the bank and still not be able to find anyone who can fix your car right.

        • Inagua

          AJ – It might be much worse than we thought. I just filled out a preliminary online application for aid from the State of California. Despite listing a checking account balance of $400,000 and many millions in stocks, I also truthfully listed my income, which is social security only (I own no dividend paying stocks) and my basic expenses (property taxes, utilities, and medical) which are about five times my social security income. The preliminary estimate is that I should qualify for about $200 a month in Food Stamps, now called CalFresh and available on an EBT card.

        • AJ

          About a year ago I filled out the online test run application for residents of the State of New York. It allows you to anonymously fill it out over and over again until you perfect your story and get it just right. To me, I can’t imagine anyone taking it unless they truly need it because they ask too many intrusive questions about your friends and family which plain and simply are none of the governments business and have nothing to do with whether a person is living in poverty or not. But that’s just me, I guess there are a lot of people who don’t mind saying anything and everything about people that they know. I think they’re just trying to build a huge cross referencing database so that in the future they can nail everyone for everything.

  21. Anonymous

    Wow….Makes me want to throw up!. Four children. free rent. free cell phones. No husbands. no work ethic. I dont even go to Whole foods especially for potato chips. There is no desire on Chelsey part to even try to get a job. My question is? how does the government which gives money away with reckless abandon, not find the time for people to do checks on what they spend money on, control who many cell phones they have. shorten the time allocated for unemployment. Ask to see how many jobs they have applied for and follow up…set time limits. Ask Dr. Carson for help. This is a disgrace. We should storm the White House but then again we might be interupping a party.

    • Old Coot

      Back in the day, social workers were mentors, were links to where and how the people they visited once a week would get a job, they were the cheerleaders to show families in poverty a way out. They gave advice. They listened. Today, social workers would probably get fired for suggesting that someone work to get off the dole. It’s a skillset lost on this generation.

  22. harrycan

    “I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion of the means. I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it.” – Doctor Benjamin Franklin

    People should be made uncomfortable in their poverty. When they are given phones, cable, food (stamps) and healthcare – they obviously believe having children is the next step to getting more handouts.
    Why pay your mortgage, when someone else is getting money to pay for theirs, or can live in their house for two – three years rent free until the courts repossess? I must be a sucker to believe that contracts still mean something.

    When we took away someone having to present “stamps” (coupons) at the grocer, and gave them a Electronic (EBT credit) card that is refilled every month thanks to the hardworking taxpayer – did we not think that more people would jump on that train?

    We used to have debtors prison in this country. That’s when you had to took take your responsibilities seriously.

  23. At least Chelsea doesn’t have fifteen kids

  24. dogwalker

    You took the words out of my mouth, AJ. What is in her head? Or, is ANYTHING in her head? Somebody needs to be held accountable. {groan}

  25. LAK

    28 comments on Stamford Advocate
    4 comments on Greenwich Time

    Where are the fathers of these children & why aren’t they being held accountable?

    If she stopped with 1 child, she would be in a better position than she is now.

    So sick of the entitlement they think they deserve.

  26. lib to the end

    Unbelievable. I never thought that i lived in a community filled with such heartless bastards. How, in this day and age, can people not empathise with a family in such a terrible situation? These are people too. If you prick them, do they not bleed? i was so ashamed to read these blog entries. You should be ashamed. Can you imagine living off of only $50,000 per year? THAT IS ALL THIS WOMAN HAS AND SHE DOESN’T EVEN HAVE THE SATISFACTION OF A JOB!

    • LAK

      Oh spare me Lib to the end!
      She should have stopped having kids!
      Ever hear of birth control?

      • lib to the end

        Listen LAK, we should all be spared from people like you. I can’t believe you think life can simply be solved through pills. I’m sure your next note will be an indictment of Chelsea simply because she made some poor choices. Haven’t you ever made a poor choice? Haven’t you ever made a mistake. Have you never had help in your life? Where do you get your chips? Don’t you know those potatos are subsidized? In fact, the mere fact that you eat potato chips makes you no better than Chelsea. I’m sure you also are one of those people who drives around complaining about the prices of gas (as if you are paying full price for that either). Do you drink milk? Life in this country is a collection of subsidies. If this wonderfully composed article teaches us anything it is that the spoils go the victors and the victors are the ones that collect the most subsidies. How you like them chips?

        • Breeding four kids when you can’t support even one is more than “a poor choice” – it’s a deliberate act, one of refusal to accept responsibility for one’s actions and was designed to place the burden of raising her children on other people. And if she must eat potato chips (I couldn’t care less if she does), why pay a premium for them at Hole-in-the-Wallet Foods? With the money she’d have saved buying at Shop-Rite she could have bought a couple of quarts of oil for that Cadillac.

        • LAK

          Yes I make mistakes. And I PAY for MY mistakes!
          I dont drive a cadillac, I dont eat chips & I dont live in Greenwich.
          Now STFU!

        • Lib to the end

          LAK, I’m sorry you don’t live in Greenwich. Really, truly sorry. I would really appreciate it if you could keep this dialouge civil. I wouldn’t want you to offend Walt.

          Seriously, though, doesn’t anyone get sarcasm in this day and age? I realize I’m not a gifted writer, but I would have thought CF would have at least been able to appreciate the not so subtle dark humor. Oh well.

          Signing off for now,

          Lib to the end, aka big repub, aka avid fan of the onion

  27. OG Gal

    She can’t find her favorite potato chips at Whole Foods??? WHOLE FOODS??? Is this a joke??? My husband his doctor and I rarely shop at Whole Foods because it’s ridiculously expensive. My tax dollars at work.

    • How about $150 for Hershey Park? When I was a young lawyer and first went out on my own the Saint Paul’s Fair came up on the calendar and I told my children that we had exactly ten dollars to spend, total, between the three of them. Over the years, I watched that budget grow to $30, then $60, but never higher. That was 1988-1990, and I’m sure inflation has increased those numbers, but that’s how middle class families make it. Poor ones are less careful with their money.

      • Brown Eyed Girl

        I’m assuming the $150 includes the round-trip charter bus fee and the park entry pass — not just souvenirs and funnel cakes. Still, ouch.

        • anonymous

          Its the choir trip – Friday to Sunday with a competition built into the schedule. Total trip cost is more like $500 but I assume there is some help for those who can’t afford the full cost.

  28. Central Gwich

    She needs to talk 2 her peepz on de “sail foam,” knowmsayin. It beez a tragedy of de highest magnitude dat Chelsea can’t be buy’n Knowa n K’den dey favorite kind of chipz and drank at duh WholeFoo.

    It be unfair dat she gotta be see’n all deez folks wif big houses knowmsayn. When she be marrying her felonious baby Daddy up in yo hizzouse den dere will be some Justice up n here. Sistah Souljah be fightin de good fight knowmsayn.

    In all seriousness, Greenwich should not be subsidizing these people. At all. Greenwich Time should be embarrassed and called to task for engaging such petty and blatant yellow journalism.