Ronnell’s Story

Ronnell was born and raised in southeast San Diego. His father was incarcerated when Ronnell was young, and when he was released, Ronnell’s father started work as a city maintenance worker. Working at minimum wage, Ronnell says that his father had $600 garnished from his check each pay period, more than 60 percent of his earnings. Ronnell’s mother received only the first $50. Looking back Ronnell is frustrated. 

“Realizing now that he was paying $1,200 a month—we didn’t see any of that. We could have used that. Knowing how much money was being taken out of his check, and knowing we were really struggling, it’s hard to know. We had to work really hard, even us kids. I even sold candy door to door. When I left for college, our water was cut off. My family had to go to our neighbor’s house to shower and use the bathroom.” 

“It’s tragic, what me and my siblings have had to go through. If that money was going into our household, there was a lot we wouldn’t have had to deal with.” 

Ronnell, Los Angeles