Paul Ross Hensley, 48, an unemployed sheet metal worker and father of two from Sacramento, California, is hoping he can save the family home with the release of a CD on Dec. 31 filled with his songs about the struggles he and many other Americans are facing in today’s sinking economy.
His journey to save the “American dream” through song and not let his home slip into foreclosure has already been featured on a Capital Public Radio program on the battles facing the long-term middle-aged unemployed.
Paul lost his job as a 26-year veteran sheet metal worker for Local 162 at the start of the recession in 2007. With the economy plunging and construction coming to a drastic halt, Paul and his wife Cindy, a legal assistant, needed to find new ways to survive in the slow economy.
“When I got laid off, the union’s list of out-of-work of men was over 200. My wife and I knew this problem was bigger than us and we had to do something to make some extra money,” Paul said. Their biggest fear is that they will lose the home they bought in 1996 after years of hard work to save up the down payment. By making huge family sacrifices, including having no health insurance, the Hensleys have managed to keep their home – for now – using Paul’s unemployment benefits and Cindy’s income.
The album “Destitute Legend,” with many of the songs devoted to the struggles facing so many American families today, was written over the three years Paul was laid off. During those years, his wife took full charge of creating this late-in-life career as a songwriter and began learning the ropes of managing and promoting Paul. Now that the album is finished and the release date is set for Dec. 31, Paul is hoping to sell his music on iTunes and generate enough money to help pay for his mortgage and keep his house.
“I need to do this now more than ever because my unemployment benefits are going to be cut,” Paul said. Although the jobless benefits have been extended for him for two months, the job outlook is not optimistic for Paul in 2011. Once the benefits run out, Paul and his family, along with many other Americans, soon will be destitute with no unemployment benefits.