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Homeless man welcomes Obama's pledge to close income gap

Wednesday, January 29, 2014 - 02:29

Jan. 29 - A homeless man says the government should offer more help to the poor on the morning after President Barack Obama's State of the Union pledge to narrow the gap between rich and poor. Katharine Jackson reports.

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(SOUNDBITE) (English) CARLOS VALLARINO SAYING: "This is my bed, 11, and I have a locker that corresponds to that number." Carlos Vallarino has lived in a homeless shelter in Washington, D.C. for more than a year. He shares a room with 23 other men, does chores and listens to inspirational sermons each morning before work. Vallarino fled war in Panama to come to the U.S. in 1989, finding work as a translator. He sought help from the shelter when jobs became scarce and he was diagnosed with cancer. Now cancer-free and working as a clerical worker, Vallarino says the American Dream often seems out of reach. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CARLOS VALLARINO SAYING: "The way things are, they're making it hard for let's say, my generation to advance, because we got like to a state, to a level, and then with all this controlling, don't give this, don't give that, but then they're giving it to the corporations. We can't advance." Lack of mobility was a major theme in this year's State of the Union speech. U.S. President Barack Obama pledged to narrow the income gap between rich and poor, proposing a federal retirement savings program and a minimum wage increase. (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA SAYING: "The cold, hard fact is that even in the midst of recovery, too many Americans are working more than ever just to get by - let alone get ahead. And too many still aren't working at all." Vallarino says he feels the government should do more for people in the U.S. - where about 15 percent of residents, or 46.5 million people, live in poverty, the latest U.S. Census figures show. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CARLOS VALLARINO SAYING: "The government should be helping me, should find a way, as the Buddhists say, try to find like a middle way to help people like us," If he could move out of the shelter, Vallarino says he would find his own place, where he could pursue his passion for reading. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CARLOS VALLARINO SAYING: "My fantasy is you know like the Beauty and the Beast, that big library that he had." In the meantime, Vallarino says he'll keep reading self-help books before taking the bus to his job, hoping to build success.

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Homeless man welcomes Obama's pledge to close income gap

Wednesday, January 29, 2014 - 02:29