Joseph Cappelluzzo never worried about losing his home, being unable to feed his five children or having an empty savings account.
But now the licensed carpenter, who specializes in remodeling kitchens and bathrooms, is struggling to find work.
Some weeks, he brings home $200 doing odd jobs as a handyman -- barely enough to pay for groceries, the mortgage on his two-bedroom Hollywood home and gasoline.
''I have always been able to pay the bills and put food on the table,'' Cappelluzzo said. ``But now I worry a lot. I just don't feel secure.''
As the nation's financial crisis continues on a downward turn, an increasing number of Americans are feeling the effects on the family budget.
Cappelluzzo, 46, is one example.
His desperation recently led him to stand at a traffic light near the exit ramp of Hollywood Boulevard and Interstate 95, holding a wooden sign: ``Licensed and insured finished carpenter. I have 5 children. My wife and I don't want a bailout. I NEED WORK.''
His wife and kids -- who range in age from 8 months to 12 years -- stood nearby.
As cars passed, some drivers offered Cappelluzzo spare change, even cash. But he refused all handouts.
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