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Reports From The Road Less Covered: Salinas' Central Avenue



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(Salinas, CA)
Wednesday, September 22, 2010

SEPULVADO: I've spent a lot of free time reading John Steinbeck---and as far as I know, he didn't write too much about Central Avenue in Salinas. Maybe when he lived there, his neighbors avoided the kind of tragedy Steinbeck spent a lifetime chronicling. But that's not the case today:

(STREET SOUNDS)

BROWN: My name is Monica Brown, and I live in Salinas California

SEPULVADO: It's Sunday morning, and Monica is hosting a garage sale in front of her ranch home, about seven blocks away from the house where Steinbeck was born. She's broke, and she has mountains of bills. She says her aunt died the night before, and the funeral costs are going to be high. Before moving to Central Avenue, Monica and her husband lost their home of 28 years. He's still recovering from the long illness that made him unable to work. 

BROWN: Since he pulled through the surgery okay, when it was time to get a loan on the house, they wouldn't accept us because our income was not like it was. So I lost my home three years ago, and that's how I ended up living here on Central Ave.

SEPULVADO: Spread out in front of her on the lawn is a lifetime of secondhand goods begging for buyers. And I can't think help but think as she lists them to me, that in the back of her mind, Monica keeps telling herself this lawn full of junk is worth more than it is...

BROWN: I have a reel to reel, but I'm not sure how much it's worth. I might just sell it off the top, or go on the internet and see what its worth. Miscellaneous clothes and shoes half of them are my daughters because they think this is a storage unit…and so I'm just going to sell what I can---There's a baby stroller.

SEPULVADO: Monica says her husband's long serious illness, followed by the loss of his job and their home, has her focused on health care. And she wants the candidates to lay out plans to make it available all Californians. And, not surprisingly considering how close her and her husband came to being on the streets, she wants the candidates to lay out a plan to reduce homelessness.

BROWN: I don't think there's enough shelters to cover the homeless people, especially with the winter coming. I don't think California puts their money where it belongs. They spend money on research for stupid little things that doesn't even matter. Instead of taking care of the people. 

SEPULVADO: Jokingly, Monica Brown says she's thinking of voting for Jerry Brown because they share the same last name. No relation, she says. As for Meg Whitman, Monica says she hasn't paid much attention---but it's hard to miss those television ads.

BROWN: I haven't really researched a lot of the stuff she has done. But she does have the money to back her up…But, if she's going to be like another Schwarzenegger…You know, they all say they're going to do good, they're going to do this, they're going to do that, but when they get in there, they're the same thing, like everybody else, you know?

SEPULVADO: Monica Brown is a caretaker for her ill husband. She lives on Central Avenue in Salinas. The two most important issues for her in this election are health care and homelessness.   

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