Wednesday, July 14, 2010

DPSS, GR and *The System*

Here's an example of what happens in the Los Angeles, California, DPSS GR/Food Stamp System:

I return from an MRI appointment today -- it's taken 3 and 1/2 months to get that appointment.

There, in my mail slot, is a letter from the Department of Public Social Services.

The form is telling me my General Relief will be discontinued effective 07/31/2010 because I did not correctly sign and/or date an annual agreement.


Place a call to the case worker, and with great luck manage to get through to her. Ask her why my GR is going to be cut off, when I met with her in early June to fill out the agreement (ABP 898-16). The meeting took nearly an hour and many pages were gone through.

Her response to me, "I haven't had time to file it."

My query, "We met, the paperwork is signed by me."

Her response, "Well, you've got to understand, I have lots of cases that got cut off earlier this month and I have to help them. Then I can come back to yours -- maybe by the end of the month."

She continued with "You can probably call me back on the 26th to see if it went through. You do understand that don't you? Others (her inference with tone and unstated - was that the others are, of course, more important than me) are ahead of you."

My statement to her, "No, I don't. And I'm scared. Who can I talk to?"

She continued, "You can talk to a supervisor, but they won't get the paper work done, that has to be done by me."

I said, "Do you understand how scary this is? I'm nearly homeless now -- August is the month I have to leave my room and face the streets, and you're telling me I cannot count on the $221 I get from GR on the 3rd because you don't have time to file my paperwork?"

She shared with me she could call me if she still has my phone number, which she then verified. I said, thank you and hung up.

What I do understand is that when I told her I was scared and wanted someone to talk to, her attitude shifted from a friendly voice to a defensive voice.

I can understand that, with her apparent overload of cases and a 2-hour time span during the day when people can actually reach her on the telephone she must run into many conversations that are unpleasant.

However, I cannot understand her asking me to face the uncertainty of not having any GR/Food Stamps on the 3rd of August, which is the only way I'll have any hope of having food and sustenance to see me through August.

So, I place a call to the free legal advice telephone number given at the bottom of the form -- fortunately, it's an 800#. It's 12:30pm, on Wednesday afternoon. The answering message indicates the office is open from 9-5 Monday-Friday and that if I want to speak with an operator I have to call back during office hours. Disbelieving what I'm hearing I call back again. Get the same message.

Call me freaky ... but, isn't 12:30 pm during the time of 9-5? So, maybe it's lunchtime? Who knows ... but it's certainly not on the Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County's message. So, I guess I'll try that 800# again later this afternoon.

Following my belief that there is always choice ... how can I choose to use this to reach my goals?

I've got to admit I'm a bit lost on that one, anger is the first thing that crops up; feeling like a victim is the second thing I am aware of.

It's gonna take me some moments to meditate on this one to see what I can do. In the meantime, I'm exercising my right hand and typing it out here in my blog so I can at least refer back to it without forgetting what happened.

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