In Search of Opportunity (02:54)
Cafeteria worker Hilton Kennedy III and his girlfriend Diana pay $300 to live in a shared garage in Silicon Valley. He was born in the U.S. and raised in Mexico. He earns $11 hourly, or $22,000, working on the Google campus.
Expectant Parents (02:57)
Kennedy borrows his friend's car to pick up Gonzalez from the airport; she is returning from visiting family in Mexico. She is four months pregnant with twins. Kennedy wants to provide the best possible opportunities for his children.
Reluctant to Immigrate (03:05)
Emilia Stancati, age 50, gathers with her family in a Chicago suburb. Her parents emigrated from Italy when she was in grade school; she had trouble adjusting. Her daughter Nicole Palmbos looks at childhood photos.
Wasted Opportunities (02:47)
Stancati became addicted to drugs and feels that she has no future now. Her friend Lisa describes her erratic behavior while abusing substances. Her parents helped raise her daughter until she was sober and stable.
Starting Over (02:55)
DJ Jackson, his girlfriend Takita Akins, and their children have lived with his mother Chantel since their apartment was burglarized. Seven people and two dogs share a two bedroom home. The family rushes to get ready for church.
Sunday School (03:33)
Jackson and his mother discuss faith with their spiritual community. He credits her and God for giving him a strong foundation. As a single mother, she worked hard to give her children a better opportunity and focused on their education.
Hoping for a Mortgage (03:40)
In Maryland, veteran Jose Merino works for a court reporting agency. He discusses job competition with colleagues. He and his girlfriend Elizabeth Bonta, a high school counselor, are trying to get a loan as first time home owners.
Pressure to Provide (03:32)
A family of four needs $100,000 to live in Silicon Valley; Kennedy earns $42,000 working two jobs. He and Gonzalez go out for breakfast. Their expenses are mounting as her pregnancy progresses; he also sends money to his mother in Mexico.
Iraq Veteran (04:15)
At age 24, Merino joined the National Guard and did two tours. He describes his experience and his struggle to readjust to civilian life. He divorced his son Ayden's mother; they have little contact. He hopes buying a house will provide stability.
Applying for Jobs (03:14)
Jackson stops by the union office to use the computer to check on an online application before his Walgreen's shift. A train maintenance position would have better pay and benefits. Being an African-American man presents additional career challenges.
Work Ethic (03:41)
Chantel Jackson waits for the bus in sub-zero temperatures; she commutes 70 minutes each way to work in technical support at an educational software company. She lost her mother recently, from whom she learned to work hard and be self-sufficient.
Turning Fifty (03:05)
Stancati prays each morning as part of a 12 step program. She takes the day off to celebrate her birthday with family at a sports bar. Palmbos discusses how their relationship has gradually improved.
Elusive Home Ownership (01:41)
Merino and Bonta have been denied a mortgage loan. They express frustration and hopelessness at being unable to achieve the American Dream.
New Beginnings (03:02)
Jackson moves out of his mother's house, five months after a burglary forced his family to stay with her. They move to Garfield Park, an economically depressed neighborhood. Jackson and Akins are optimistic they can create a safe home for their children.
DJ's Monthly Budget (02:43)
Jackson tries not to panic about money in front of his girlfriend. They earn $2,000 monthly; after basic expenses like rent, food, and school fees, they have $179 to save. View a preview of the next "Hard Earned" episode.
Credits: Rock Bottom: Episode 2—Hard Earned (00:45)
Credits: Rock Bottom: Episode 2—Hard Earned
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