Thursday, December 25, 2014

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A Tale of Two Cities: Queens Family Works Hard to Live the American Dream

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As more and more New Yorkers are finding it harder and harder to survive and thrive, one couple in Queens is allowing two of their six children to live at home. NY1's Ruschell Boone filed the following report.

The Belizarios never let their face show their struggles. For two months, we saw a lot of laughter and celebration, but the family is working hard and pulling together through their economic struggles.

They spend many weekends promoting Dan Belizario's human-powered vehicle at community events as the retired father of six works on generating new income. His brother is also retired. He helped to build the vehicle. It took them three-and-a-half years and a lot of money to get to this point, but this Dominican-American family is known for being bold and sticking together even in tough times.

"We face the bad times and look forward to the good times," Jorge Belizario said.

It's a lesson they learned early on from their mother.

"We come from the Dominican Republic, and at the time that my mother came from the Dominican Republic, it was hardly heard about Dominicans immigrating to the United States," Jorge Belizario said. "So that's the nature of our spirit, my mother's spirit. She's very adventurous and bold-thinking and daring.

After the event, Dan Belizario heads home with his wife. They live with their youngest son, a recent college graduate trying to pay off his student loans, and their oldest daughter and her family. They're saving to buy a house after years of renting.

"We were paying $1,100 a month for that," said Lennox Jeffrey.

Patricia Jeffrey is a children's book author and stay-at-home mom. Her husband, Lennox, a high school counselor, also became a financial advisor eight months ago. They now plan to move in the spring.

"That's a realistic goal because, like, the way it is in financial services, a lot of money in it. I'm really doing well," Lennox Jeffrey said.

Ivory Belizario is the oldest son. He doesn't live at home, but he, too, is working hard to buy a house. The construction worker has two jobs and leaves his house before the sun comes up and returns long after it's dark.

"I'm just scared of how far I'm going to have to move out to get something around the price that I want," he said. "It's tough."

His parents are surprised at how much more difficult life is for their children than it was for them. They are retired insurance brokers.

"Work hard, save, and buy a house. That is the American way. That's what you should do. But today, these kids cannot do that," said Jacqueline Belizario.

Their daughter, Yvonne Belizario, did buy a house, but like so many other New Yorkers, she needs tenants to help her pay the mortgage. Her boyfriend's handy work saves her a lot, too.

"I'm thankful, you know, that I was able to do it that way, but it would have been nice to live the way my parents lived," she said.

To hear them tell it, those days are long gone. ClientIP:, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP