Tanisha Adams, 22, and her boyfriend, Alexander Whaley, 21, along with their 6-month-old daughter Abigail, were trying to get a home for Christmas. The family lives in a one-bedroom house in Washington Court House with more than a dozen other people. Adams said they all sleep on the floor in the living and dining rooms.
“We don’t have money. We really don’t have money. We try hard to get jobs. We need a place. We’re living with some people and there’s too many people there. We have a daughter and we need a place so we don’t lose her. We want our own house. It’s right beside a family member and if we can get in, she’ll have a house, and we’re hoping to have a house before Christmas,” said Adams during an interview Dec. 7.
Adams and Whaley said they were in between employment after Whaley had been fired from a job in Washington Court House for missing work when he and his daughter became ill and needed to be checked out. Adams had not been employed since the birth of Abigail, but has a certificate in early childhood education from coursework she completed at Laurel Oaks, a career and vocational school in Wilmington.
Both were at Trillium Staffing Dec. 7 to apply for jobs. Adams and Whaley were feeling hopeful. They each planned to get a job working alternate shifts, which would allow one parent to be at home with the baby while the other was at work. The nearby factory was hiring, and although neither one of them can drive, the job was within walking distance. Once they earned the $475 required to move into the apartment, they planned to have a home before Christmas. They had two-and-a-half weeks.
In a phone interview Friday, Adams said she was unable to get a job through the staffing company because she did not have a valid state I.D. at the time that she applied. Her state I.D. had expired and she didn’t have the money to get a new one. She said that Whaley could not get hired at the factory where he applied for. Adams said he was unavailable for comment.
When Adams and Whaley attempted to apply for emergency housing assistance through Fayette County Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Fayette County Community Action, programs that offset monthly deposit and rent for people living in extreme poverty, Adams said that she was told there were no funds available. The only way their family would be able to get financial help with getting a home before Christmas was if they would go live in the homeless shelter, and for Adams, that wasn’t a good thing because she was afraid there might be bed bugs at the shelter and thought her baby would get sick if she was bitten.
“Right now we are still in Court House. After the 30th we will be in Waverly,” said Adams in the Friday phone interview.
Waverly is located about 17 miles south of Chillicothe. The Pike County village of less than 5,000 residents is the location of the April execution-style killings of the Rhoden family.
Adams said that they have family in Waverly that they can live with, “just to get out of Court House. We just thought about it and talked about it, and we just decided to leave Court House.”
The couple had set out to make it in Washington Court House, citing some of the strengths they see that the community has: a downtown area connected to local jobs and affordable housing within walking distance, parenting classes and assistance for needy families through places like Rose Avenue Community Center and The Well at Sunnyside.
Following the Dec. 9 publication of the interview with Adams and Whaley in the Record-Herald, a local resident reached out and offered to pay for one-half of the $475 the family would need to secure their apartment. The apartment was next door to family members, which would give Whaley some peace of mind while he was at work, they said during their interview.
However those plans fell through, as Adams said she wasn’t able to secure employment in order to get into the apartment.
Of the counties in the United States that have persistently high poverty rates, rural communities compromise 85 percent of them; just 15 percent are urban. Rural communities with high poverty rates are also seeing a decline in population as people move to more urban counties for job and housing opportunities. Fayette County is one of 10 rural counties in Ohio with the highest rates of poverty in the state. More than 20 percent of the county population lives in poverty, with 25 to 30 percent of children living in poverty across Fayette County.
Statistical information obtained from Rural Quality of Life data compiled by the Ohio State University Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics and presented in the 2015 Report Card on Rural and Urban Ohio.