What does it mean when Scout says the Ewells live as guests of the county in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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"The disgrace of Maycomb," Bob Ewell and his large family live in a rundown home near the local dump. Ewell does not have a job (although he lands one for a short period and then blames Atticus for losing it), but he does receive a welfare check regularly.

    "I'll repeat the question," said Atticus. "Can you read and write?"
    "I most positively can."
    "Will you write your name and show us?"
    "I most positively will. How do you think I sign my relief checks?

Atticus had previously told Scout about his drinking habits and poor treatment of his family.

"... but when a man spends his relief checks on green whiskey, his children have a way of crying from hunger pains."

He later is given a job with the WPA (Works Progress Administration), a New Deal program instituted by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to increase employment through public works programs. But that doesn't last long.

He was the only man I ever heard of who was fired from the WPA for laziness.

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