"I have an urgent need, unemployment and homelessness, a very small vehicle for my family and I to live in," Hughes told Obama Tuesday at a town hall rally in Fort Myers, Florida, as he pushed for passage of his stimulus plan in the Senate. "The housing authority has two years waiting lists, and we need something more than the vehicle and the parks to go to. We need our own kitchen and our own bathroom. Please help."She has been dubbed the "face of the economic crisis." The Joe the Plumber of the recession. President Obama offered a kiss on the cheek and promised help. But there has been some controversy. Some were saying the whole thing was staged. For example, Hughes was the last question of the night.
Hughes said she had been homeless after her son lost his job and, subsequently, their home. Although her son has been looking for work, Hughes says, so far, no luck. (CNN)
Blogger Michelle Malkin, in a story on the conservative Web site TownHall.com on Wednesday, said that if Hughes "had more time, she probably would have remembered to ask Obama to fill up her gas tank, too."Florida State Representative, Nicholas Thompson and his wife have offered a house they on to Hughes and her son Corey rent free. Already there is a website up for support, HenriettaHughes.com , things sure do move fast. In the mean time, Ms. Hughes has set up shop in Thompson's office to do press interviews.
"The soul-fixer dutifully asked her name, gave her a hug and ordered his staff to meet with her. Supporters cried, 'Amen!' and 'Yes!' " she added.
One reader questioned Hughes' motives and asked how the homeless woman got to the rally at all.
"How does a 61-year-old homeless woman who's living in a pickup truck with her son JUST HAPPEN to get a ticket so she can VERY PUBLICALLY ask Prez. Obama for a HOUSE? Anyone? Who pushes her up on stage? She's right at the front of the crowd. Did she just happen to get a seat there?" asked reader Erik E.
Things do move fast in deed. Now there are suspicions, aside that it could have been staged, that this was a calculated effort on Hughes part. A local organization has recently come forward and said that they offered assistance but Hughes refused.
We Care Outreach Ministry is a faith based organization in Fort Myers.The chatter is picking up that more investigation should be done by the media in the same fashion Joe "The Plumber" experienced for daring to ask a pointed question to Obama. It is being reported that she sold her property in 2005 for a sum near $50,000 and left New York. Her son, Corey, left his job in New York in 2008 to help take care of his mom. Not sure why one would quit a job to take care of someone who doesn't have one. But, there may be more to the story. They both left New York for Florida to get away from the high cost. Hughes said she borrowed a lot of money to make the move.
Johnson says she also gave Henrietta and her son Corey, money, food and offered Corey job training courses, but it was refused.
"We have extended a lot of her services to her," Johnson said.
But Henrietta Hughes says these services weren't free and the apartment in East Fort Myers came with a price tag.
Hughes says Tanya Johnson wanted $400 a month immediately.
The disability check Hughes gets is a little more than $800 a month.
Hughes owes money on a loan, has her car insurance payment, a monthly storage bill and says she couldn't afford the rent.
"Where was I going to get $400 a month to give her if I got these expenses," Hughes told WINK News.
WINK News Reporter Nick Spinetto went back to talk to Tanya Johnson and she stands by her story. (Wink News)
“So, I borrowed quite a bit of money to come down to Florida,” she explained.I'm not ready to say these folks aren't a legitimate case for those who have fallen on hard times, but there is the element of the unknown and the details behind the sequence of events. I think what strikes me the most is that her question and story happened to be the very last one. A homeless lady, in the front row, who looks remarkably healthy. Then again, stranger things have certainly happened.
When the family couldn’t find work, Henrietta Hughes began looking at fast food restaurants, she said. A disability stint, due to cancer, set her prospects back, she figured.
Henrietta Hughes also applied for a job at a local hospital, but was rejected after they saw her age, she said.
“He said, ‘What’s your age? How old are you,’” is how she characterized the interview.
The family was unable to find assistance from local shelters, which offer living to those who are substance abusers or females. Since they are not substance abusers, after five days in a shelter, Corey said, they are sent back to the streets. (TC Palm)