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KERA's One Crisis Away project focuses on North Texans living on the financial edge.

One Crisis Away: A Single Mom Files For Bankruptcy After Years Of Drowning In Debt

Lara Solt
KERA news special contributor
April Ford filed for bankruptcy in 2011. She's eight months from finishing her Chapter 13 case.

For many Texans, the economy is booming—plenty of jobs that pay well and a low unemployment rate.

For many working families, though, there’s a monster in the closet: debt. It looks different in every house and gets tougher to control as each day passes.

KERA's new series One Crisis Away: Drowning In Debtchronicles North Texans scrambling to stay on top of their personal mountain of “money owed.”

It starts with a single mom in Tarrant County who wrestled with growing debt for years. She finally decided she was out of options—and filed for bankruptcy.

Making The Most Of What They've Got

The Ford family lives in a cozy 2-bedroom apartment in North Richland Hills. Twelve year-old Ja’Mya is in her room watching SpongeBob; 14 year-old Jeffrey is playing Grand Theft Auto on the couch. Their mom April has decorated every inch of the place in a design motif she calls ‘Inspiration.’

“Help me God you are my strength," she says. "And God show you what you want me to do with my life today. Those are some of my favorites.”

She points to index cards posted all over the living room, the bathroom, the closets, and the kitchen; prayers, scripture and blessings.

April’s been a single parent since her youngest was born. She also raised two of her sister’s kids and a great-niece. She was living in Louisiana then, working full time during the school year as a preschool teacher.

“During the summer we filed unemployment because I was working at a Head Start so that’s when my finances really got out of hand because I would go from making $2,500 a month to making $800 a month, she says.”

April kept this up for several years, falling farther behind each summer... and piling up debt. Read her full story here and explore the entire series, including photos, videos, resources and statistics here.

Courtney Collins has been working as a broadcast journalist since graduating from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in 2004. Before coming to KERA in 2011, Courtney worked as a reporter for NPR member station WAMU in Washington D.C. While there she covered daily news and reported for the station’s weekly news magazine, Metro Connection.