Atlantic City crisis brings hardship to many families

Posted: Updated:

The closing of four major casinos in Atlantic City has left several working families in financial hurt.

Robert Worrell says he is relieved his 3-year-old son, John, is too young to care the family has no TV or notice the hole in the roof.

"We're holding our own," says Worrell, "barely, but we're holding our own.

Worrell used to be a cook at Harrah's Casino. When his hours were cut, he took a security job to make ends meet. His wife also lost her job as a banquet server when the Revel casino shut down. Two months ago, her unemployment benefits ran out, forcing the family to apply for Medicaid and food stamps and tap the local food bank on occasion.

"We never thought we'd have to do something like that," Worrell says. "We never thought we'd have to go down and ask anybody for help."

The Southern Branch of the Community Food Bank of New Jersey reportedly has given out more food so far this year than during the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.

In Egg Harbor, where the Worrells live, more than 1,500 families are out of work and on average at least 100 foreclosure notices are issued each month, according to Mayor James "Sonny" McCullough. 

He believes it's the highest rate of foreclosure in the nation.

"What we are experiencing here in the Greater Atlantic City area is the same thing that Detroit did with the downsizing of the automotive industry," the mayor says. "This is a one industry area and these people have no place to go."

Mayor McCullough says he has reached out to the White House to shine light on the need for more federal unemployment assistance. He says someone did call him back, but has yet to follow up.

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