Long, straight and narrow, the asphalt road is ragged and lonely. Juan Berrios stands in front of his attractive home in what he thought would be a thriving neighborhood. Instead, his neighbors are few. Juan is angry and disgusted.
A couple hours earlier, Juan was at a rally for Mitt Romney in Lehigh Acres. He stood there in the heat, a husky, friendly guy with a small, brown, long-haired dog named “Bo” on a leash. Juan listened carefully as Romney spoke for a few minutes in front of a home that was in foreclosure.
LeHigh Acres has been hammered by the housing crisis and thousands of homes are either in foreclosure or have owners desperately struggling to hang on. Romney and his entourage arrived in expensive black SUV’s that cost nearly as much as some of the smaller homes in the community.
Juan listened closely. He had driven nearly 30 minutes to hear what Romney had to say. Romney made a point of telling the several hundred people gathered at the rally that he understood that the foreclosed home behind him represented the lost dreams and shattered lives of a family.
Back at his home, Juan, 58, said he was unimpressed. “I didn’t hear anything that would make a difference in the people’s lives here,” he said as he looked around at the vacant lots that isolate his home on this quiet stretch of road.
“We need someone who will fight,” said Juan, who left Atlanta where he owned a small limousine service. “People are hurting. We need jobs. We need development to come back.”