Princess Forget sits patiently in her stroller on a Saturday morning, munching on pieces of a banana handed to her by her father. 

Her parents, Nikkola and Calvin Forget (pronounced for-JHAY) live across the street from the First Presbyterian Church, where they are waiting to fill a box with food to supplement their meals for the next two weeks. 

Like many who live close to the Capitol, the Forgets have had their troubles. Bad choices, past addictions, wrong turns and run-ins with the law pile up and spill over, creating a narrow road with few exits. 

They dwell in that segment of society known as the working poor, getting by on the money Calvin earns as a remodeling subcontractor for an Omaha construction company, and Nikkola's disability checks. 

Nikkola is pregnant, and in addition to Princess each of them have five other children, who live with other parents or who have been adopted into new families. 

The couple have been trying for three years to move from their two-bedroom apartment, where dangerous black mold grows on the ceiling in the living room and their bedroom. Where they cook on the one burner that works and the oven takes one to two hours to preheat, then a couple of hours more to bake a chicken.

They've been unable to find a new place they can afford or that would accept them, because both have felony convictions on their records. They are using up their deposit money to pay application fees of $25-$35 per adult that potential landlords accept, then keep when they turn them down, even though they're told upfront about the felonies.

The couple has been advised, Nikkola said, to become homeless and move to the People's City Mission so they can better qualify for housing assistance. That choice doesn't sit well with her. 

Despite their complicated lives, they say they feel blessed.

"We always have the essentials. We have a roof over our heads. And we try to live with (God's) guidance," Nikkola said.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7228 or jyoung@journalstar.com

On Twitter @LJSLegislature.


State government reporter

JoAnne Young covers state government, including the Legislature and state agencies, and the people they serve.

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