Lauren Levine is settling in with a group of friends apartment to watch “American Idol,” when a look of panic comes over her face. She rummages around, finds her keys and darts out.“I left the hair thing on,” she says when she returns, breathless, from her own apartment downstairs. “I was straightening Jasmine’s hair before we came up here, and I forgot to turn it off. Wow. That was close.” Levine has wide blue eyes accentuated with sparkly eye shadow, and her voice is spiced with a sense of interested wonder.
Anti-poverty activists and residents say the situation of many towns like Shechunat Hatikvah is the result of decades of government neglect and poor planning -- places seen as dumping grounds where immigrants were settled in demographically strategic locations but far from job opportunities.