For more than a week, unemployed laborer Keith Smith, his pregnant wife, Harriet, and their three small children lived in a plywood box on a sand-covered Head Start program playground in downtown Los Angeles' Skid Row area.
They were cold--with only the heat from a blazing trash-can fire to warm them. And they were depressed.
"Once things get this bad, it just doesn't seem like there is any way out," Smith said. "You just live from day to day."
But help came Monday from Para Los Ninos, a group that assists Skid Row children. Para Los Ninos provided the Smith family with emergency lodging in a downtown hotel and help in straightening out Smith's misunderstanding with the Department of Public Social Services.
It seems that the immediate problem was two missing welfare checks, totaling about $630. Smith explained that he and his family had been evicted in what he said was "a rent rip-off."