By Valerie D. Lockhart
SUN EXECUTIVE EDITOR
A sign hangs on the wall in the Williams family’s home, serving as a visual reminder of their goal, “Hustler’s don’t sleep, they nap.”
Although no one in the family of five holds a full-time job, they spend much of their time shopping and pride themselves on lavish treasures purchased from their side hustles. Among their cherished belongings are big screen televisions, iPads, designer purses and clothes and a 2014 Dodge Charger parked in the driveway.
“I get Section 8, so my rent is only $50 a month,” explains 42- year-old Linda, whose name has been changed to conceal her identity. “I also get about $3,200 a month in Social Security for myself and all of my children and $700 a month in food stamps. My oldest daughter and I do hair on the side, so we don’t want for nothing.”
Linda admits that she had each of her children diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) by deceiving medical professionals and coaching her children on how to act.
“I overloaded them with sugar prior to our visits and allowed them to run around and pull things off of the tables in the waiting room,” she said. “The receptionist was irritated with them pushing the bell on the counter. By the time we were called into the examination room, every- one was ready for us to go. After the first child was diagnosed, it was easy to get the other three. They prescribed Ritalin for them, but I didn’t give it to them. They just wanted to get us out of their office and move on to the next patient. I was cool with it, as long as the payments kept rolling in each month.”
While Linda uses her children in her side hustle scheme, Sheila Sims exploits her children in another way.
The 36-year-old single mother of two welcomes visitors into her home, at all hours. Visitors ringing the side door bell are handed a gift and led downstairs to the basement, where two scantily clad teens greet them at the bottom of the stairway. The basement is adorned with a strip- per pole, leather sofa and bed that is hidden behind a divider. Erotic music plays in the background, adding to the ambiance. Meanwhile, it’s business as usual upstairs, as Sheila prepares a drink and awaits the next visitor.
“My girls use protection. I personally make sure of that, when guys enter my home,” explained Sims, whose name has been changed. “As long as my bills are paid, who cares where the money comes from. My girls bring in over $1,000 on a good night. If it’s the first of the month, they may bring in about $3,000 a night. They give me half of what they make. While everyone else is complaining about the economy and working day and night for minimum wage, we’re on easy street. My girls are using their best assets to the fullest.”
Although Linda and Sheila’s side hustles exploit their children in extreme measures, some use subtle tactics.
Brenda Lewis says that she purchases candy at Sam’s Club using her food stamps, and then has her children sell them outside of local supermarkets’ doors.
“My kids will say that their fundraising for their church, school or PAL sports team,” she said. “People fall for it every time and are willing to pay $1 or $2 for a candy bar. Some give them more. I tell them to say please and thank you. People can’t refuse to give to a cute child, who’s polite. In one day, they’ll bring home about $200. I’d rather they sell candy, than drugs.”
As Detroit recovers from bankruptcy, some residences are using creative ways to bounce back from economic woes.
“The system doesn’t care about us, so we have to look out for ourselves,” adds Linda. “I’ve learned to use (it to my advantage) and not be used by the system. Why work, when you can sit at home and make money. I probably make more than my worker. Detroit better wake up! If you don’t have a side hustle, you better get one. People can say that I’m wrong, but my kids are happy. Other kids envy them and say, ‘They’re swagged out.’ I teach them that if they want to have nice things, they’ve got to hustle hard. Hustler’s don’t sleep, they nap. And, I ain’t got time to take too many of those. I’ve got to get my hustle on!”