Man Travels 4 Hours To and From Work Every Day: Part 2

Ronnie Thomas can't afford to live near his work so he commutes 80 miles by bike, bus and train every day.
7:43 | 01/14/17

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Transcript for Man Travels 4 Hours To and From Work Every Day: Part 2
??? oh the way Glen Miller played ??? Reporter: Return with us to the sights and sounds of Archie bunker's neighborhood. 30 years ago, the television symbol of living in the American working class. Open up the window and holler. Reporter: Here's Archie's house today. The blue one on the right. We took a walk there with Ralph Mclaughlin, chief economist for trulia, a real estate website. Those homes were built for middle class Americans. They were built for teachers, they were built for firefighters, they were built for nurses. And those types of people can't afford those homes anymore. I see a middle class neighborhood that is no longer affordable to the middle class. Reporter: Kathy Masi moved into Archie's neighborhood 40 years ago. Her husband was a truck driver. She showed us who's buying these houses now. He is a banker, he's a CEO. Reporter: She says in 1978, her house cost almost $60,000. Today, it's valued at $800,000. And these soaring house prices are not just in New York, its happening in job markets across the country. We wondered about that other TV home. Roseanne's house in Evansville, Indiana. They're gone. Change the locks. Reporter: Her house would cost $129,000 but Roseanne's fictional job on TV was in manufacturing. But in Evansville the number of manufacturing jobs is shrinking. So home ownership in America is, where is it now? Home ownership in America is at a 50-year low. Think about that, Diane. How many things can you think of today are at 50-year lows? Reporter: So Americans are right that something has changed. That in the 1970s, a father on one salary could afford the average new home being built then. It was 1,700 square feet, two-thirds had fewer than three bedrooms. More than one bathroom was a luxury. And the cost, $191,000. But today, the average new house is $360,000 and the home has grown by 60%, 2,600 square feet. Four bedrooms, not to mention multiple bathrooms as builders keep catering more and more to upscale incomes. I love this town, I love this community. Reporter: This is mauritia Savilla. I didn't expect to get emotional. I can't take my daughter to the dentist. Reporter: She's one of the people caught in the vicious choice between affording where you live and affording your life. I think I grew up middle class. My parents have four children, they own their home. I didn't imagine I would still be without any idea of how I would get into a house at this point. Reporter: Her husband is a microbiologist in a lab. They rent a small two-bedroom apartment in California. When we meet her, she's taken on four part-time jobs. Now I do dog walking and house sitting. Reporter: College savings for the girls? Nothing. Teachers can't afford to live here. Blue collar workers that we depend on in this town that we have to depend on, they have to leave. I've worked in biotech for 20 years, I make 6 figures, and I can't give my kids what I grew up with. With two incomes it's difficult. We can live here, but can we thrive here? Reporter: So you have to live in a place you can't afford to live to keep the job you want to keep. It's a trap. Right. Reporter: It says a lot that almost everyone with me at this table over a year and a half ago is gone. They had to leave their home. We gathered a panel of experts to help guide us tonight. All of them said they had to leave. Darren walker gives credit for his life to head start. Once upon a time, the gap between the rich and the poor was not a large one and everybody on one side of it had hopes of getting to the other. Two things have happened. One, that gap has become extraordinarily large and two, the ability to cross it has become extraordinarily rare. It's a game of chutes and ladders that has become all chutes and very few ladders. Reporter: As for the costs of housing, the experts say its all about political leadership. And zoning laws. People who are entrenched interests have made it impossible to build low-income housing, any housing. The solutions are within our reach, the question is, do we have the will to implement. Reporter: In the meantime the outward migrations has created a group of Americans called super commuters. There's one light on up there. Is it time yet? We travel to meet Ronnie Thomas, who's just getting up. He makes an 80-mile commute, and can't afford a car. Every day makes an 80-mile commute to his job but he can't afford a car. Do you ever get up in the morning and think I just can't do it? Every morning I feel that way, I have responsibilities. I have a wife, I have kids. These are my driving force. Reporter: We go with him. First by bike five miles to the train, then 66 miles by train to the bus. It takes another 30 minutes by bus until he's dropped at his workplace. Ronnie works at Stanford university unloading the boxes of food they serve students on campus. Tuition at Stanford is $45,000. Ronnie wanted to take computer classes, but the long commute makes that impossible. So, every day, he walks his bike past the students just waking up. So, when you see all those kids at the community, with so many advantages? Doesn't bother me in the least. I'm going to do what Ronnie needs to do. Reporter: Back on the bike, bus, the train, hoping those eight hours will carry him to a better life for his children. I'm going to come to that sink like I do every morning, look in the mirror, remind myself what your focus is, and

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