Melinda Santiago is a 30-year-old Hispanic woman.† She is a single mother, with two children, aged 6 months and 19 months.† Her husband died recently as the result of a random gang shooting in their neighborhood, the high-percentage Hispanic community of Hillsboro.
Melinda has a B.S. in sociology from PSU and a masterís of social work, also from PSU.† She works with alcohol and drug abusers in a clinic in downtown Portland.† She makes $18,000 a year.† Melinda and her children live with her mother in a two-bedroom home in Hillsboro.† Melinda moved there with her children after her husbandís death.† Prior to that, they had lived in St. Johns, in North Portland, in a two-bedroom apartment.† Melinda moved with her mother primarily for financial reasons:† the mother takes care of the children during the day, thus avoiding childcare costs.† Also, Melinda could not keep up the monthly rent payments at their old apartment.
Melinda does own a car, but she does not drive it to work because she cannot afford to park downtown.† When her husband was alive, he took her to work and picked her up; he worked in a warehouse near their home.† Melindaís mother does not know how to drive.
Melinda has recently found out that her mother has had a recurrence of breast cancer.† She is afraid of her motherís dying, for many obvious reasons.† One of her fears, though, has to do with the childcare arrangement.† While she and her children could continue to live in her motherís house (where the mortgage is paid off), she would lose the free childcare her mother provides.† She has learned that there are very long waiting lists for daycare centers, so she has begun investigating options, but is finding them all very expensive.† In the meantime, she plans to take some Family Leave from work to take care of her mother.† She has two weeks of sick leave accrued that she can use for that, but when that runs out, she will have to rely on her savings, which total $2,500.
Melinda also worries about her own health, having been told that breast cancer tends to run in families.† Two of her aunts died of breast cancer.† For this reason (she believes) she has been denied life insurance (some have also mentioned to her the possibility that her living in a high-percentage Hispanic neighborhood also contributed to the denial of life insurance).† So, she worries about the future of her children.