HBO's 'American Winter' profiles Portland's poor

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by Pat Dooris

NWCN.com

Posted on March 19, 2013 at 5:27 AM

Updated Tuesday, Mar 19 at 12:01 PM

PORTLAND - Eight Portland families struggling to survive the economic downturn are profiled in a documentary that premiered on HBO Monday.

The film “American Winter” takes viewers behind the scenes with struggling families and single moms, all fighting to survive.

John Cox, one of the eight profiled, lives in Newberg and has joint custody of his son Geral, who has Down Syndrome.

He constantly worries about money.

“From one month to the next, I don’t know where gas money's going to come from. You really have to plan with the gas you have," Cox said.

Cox is an accountant but hasn’t worked a steady job in four years.

“It’s not like I haven’t been looking for jobs,” he said.

The documentary team profiled him a year ago. Today, little has changed. When Geral is at his father's home, the 11-year-old sleeps on the couch.

“To get money, I had to sell his bunk bed and his dresser,” said Cox.

He's on the verge of losing his home.

At $457,500 the mortgage is more than it’s worth, Cox said. He hasn’t had the money to make a payment in two years.

“I had $60,000 in the bank. So I thought, couple weeks, maybe a month and come back and go back to work. And that’s about the time the economy went—" he points his thumb to the ground.

He believes his fall from middle class to desperation is a warning to us all.

“It can happen to anyone. It happened to me. One day you're making $60,000 a year and the next thing you know, you’re scrounging and scrapping for every penny you can find," said Cox.

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