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'America Now: Lost in Suburbia'


Joyce Welch, 35, pauses to talk on the phone during a shopping trip to Costco. After Welch's husband, Lincoln, lost his job, and money became tight she reluctantly enrolled the family in the food stamps and Medicaid program. After leading a comfortable middle class life for decades, Joyce and her family have fallen below the U.S. poverty line. One of at least three and a half million suburbanites that have done so since 2007. In an interview Joyce remarked that she was the “new face of food stamps,” and her children “the faces of Medicaid.”

Lincoln and Joyce Welch pause for a portrait in their living room in Superior, Colo., which they have rented for the last seven years. Money Magazine listed Superior 20th on the "Best Place to Live" in the United States list in 2011. Nearby Louisville, Colo., was ranked number one.

Outside of their home, Joyce Welch and her sons Nikolas and Michael prepare to walk to school. Joyce has been a stay at home mom since Michael was diagnosed with a chromosomal disorder. She has committed her full-time attention to advocate for his care. The families' savings have largely gone towards Michael's medical bills so when Lincoln Welch lost his job as a design engineer, the family was immediately in financial trouble.

Joyce and Michael tend to the family goldfish before leaving for school.

Ann Huggins, 49 and her daughter Holly sit for a portrait in front of their home in Lafayette, Colo. Ann lost her job at a non-profit organization in November of 2011 and struggled to find a job. Losing her health insurance was the biggest blow because Holly has type 1 diabetes and her medications are quite expensive. Huggins found a part-time temporary job soon after being laid off, but without benefits or health insurance. But due to her low income she managed to get Holly on state-sponsored low-cost health insurance.

Since losing her job last year Ann Huggins has sought the guidance and assistance from the Sister Carmen Center who helped her navigate the assistance processes, gave her advice on her job search and provided financial assistance and access to their food pantry.

Diane Windemuller sits in her backyard as her daughter Claire looks through the kitchen door for a portrait at their home in Niwot, Colo. Windemuller, a former HR executive, lost her job in April 2011 and was very reluctant to look for anything less than a comparable position and salary. But after her unemployment insurance ran out she was forced to find a temporary administrative job.

Claire Windemuller helps her dad make a pancake breakfast on a Saturday morning. For the first time the Windemuller family is accessing public safety net services: the family has received rent assistance and goes to food pantries twice a week to shift money they otherwise would spend on food to other important bills.

The Windemuller family pray before breakfast. Their faith has helped them withstand some of the strains of their dire economic situation. Despite their own struggles, the family regularly volunteers at their church’s soup kitchen.

Jon Windemuller poses for a portrait in the home he shares with his wife, Diane and their three children in Niwot, Colorado before leaving for work. He lost his business consulting job in December 2010, and managed to find a sales position at an athletic store, with benefits but at a much lower salary. As his struggle to provide for his family intensified, Jon's self-confidence took a hit. His marriage too; Diane and Jon are going to marriage therapy to overcome the stress their financial situation has imposed on their personal relationship.