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It's no secret the Northern San Joaquin Valley is poorer than many other areas in the state and country. But over the past several years, the disparity has widened.
For the past year, Mike Hutson and Heather Rhodes have lived in a tiny, $450-a-month, one-bedroom apartment with their infant daughter. They drive a 1993 Mercury Sable that leaks transmission fluid and has more than 200,000 miles on it.
Twenty-one years ago, Beatriz Rodriguez struggled to get enough food to feed her children. She and her husband, Juan, came to the Northern San Joaquin Valley from Mexico in hopes of finding work. But, she told a Bee reporter in the winter of 1991, she felt just as helpless here.