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Gayle King went on assignment for Oprah's special report and met with Merverlyn in Hartford, Connecticut. Born and raised in the city's projects, Merverlyn worked 16 hours a day, seven days a week to buy her home. Yet she is still considered part of Hartford's poor population. In fact, 43 percent of the city's children live below the poverty line. The average weekly income for their families is $365.

Supporting herself and her three children on only $224 a week, Merverlyn says she must often make tough choices to survive. "This past Sunday, we didn't have dinner," she says. "We didn't have any food because my paycheck had to go to pay the car payment, which was past due. And I have to pay the car payment because that's the way I get to work."

With a house, job and car, Merverlyn appears to be making ends meet. But she says looks can be deceiving. "Looking at my house … people would think that everything is okay with us," says Merverlyn. "But it's really not. So I feel invisible because most people don't know how I live."
FROM: Oprah Special Report: Inside the Lives of America's Poor
Published on October 12, 2005