State of Arizona Archives: on Welfare & Poverty

Richard Carmona: Experienced poverty and homelessness as child in Harlem

Q: Tell me about your life growing up.

A: I came from a pretty poor family. I grew up in Harlem, in New York City. And my parents were good people, but they struggled with some of the substance and alcohol problems. And we were homeless for a while when I was a kid, when I was 5 or 6--I remember coming home and I remember seeing all of our belongings on the street and a Salvation Army truck picking them up. We got taken to a shelter. And then we moved around a lot, finding places to stay. We ended up living with my grandmother in the Bronx projects, which are rent-subsidized. At one point there were 12 of us living in this little apartment. Something happened with my father; I don't know what it was.

Q: How did those experiences affect your views later in life?

A: I think what it does is it gives me a much broader perspective than the average politician. You know, having walked in those shoes of being hungry and being homeless.

Source: Washington Post "Ten Questions" 2012 Arizona Senate debate May 2, 2012

Kyrsten Sinema: Marriage promotion for welfare recipients is offensive