What does poverty look like in the United States?
“Life inside an ‘American-made’ tragedy”
Accelerated by the pandemic, there are uniquely underlying reasons for the growing population of ‘working homeless’ in the United States that starts with inadequate health care. Somehow we have normalized a type of poverty that doesn’t exist in most other countries, including Canada.

January 10, 2021

By: Henry Broeska

Aidan Rosenkoetter seems to have it all. On the outside he’s the handsome all-American boy, the kind mothers dream their daughters will bring home to dinner. He’s now a senior at prestigious 
Ladue Horton Watkins High School in St. Louis, recently named the top ‘non-selective’ high school in Missouri. He’s been a driven self-starter his whole life and has become an ‘A’ student — even through online pandemic school. A former state football champion, he’s been called a ‘natural leader’ by his coach. It would seem that Aidan’s future couldn’t look much brighter as he reaches college age.s

Yes, Aidan is everything a 17-year-old All-American student should be — with one exception. He’s poverty-stricken. Instead of applying to college and looking over scholarship offers with his parents, Aidan’s life has become a monotonous blur of drudgery and suffering, both physical and mental. Here in the heartland of the wealthiest country in the world, what we find unfolding instead is the ‘all-American tragedy.’ And it’s a tale that’s becoming all too common.

Aidan works an average of fifty hours a week at a McDonald’s restaurant. He pulls mostly overnight shifts before logging onto his classes — until he has to go to work again in an unchanging cycle of tedium. There’s no time to do the fun things that kids his age are supposed to do. He grabs minutes of sleep where he can, sometimes propped up in a chair. On payday he hands half of his paycheck over to his mom to help pay the family bills.