To the editor:
After months and months of bureaucratic bull, reaching out to the public advocate and the Bronx borough president’s office as well as numerous other Bronx officials in the hopes of help or insight — all while still doing battle with the city’s Human Resources Administration website — I finally got my uncle’s EBT/SNAP/food stamp monies reinstated.
What an exhausting, and sometimes soul-crushing, adventure. While I understand and appreciate that COVID-19 impacted countless things — including city, state and federal services — I cannot fathom why it took nearly 10 months to get this resolved.
One should bear in mind that many a government website are not easy to navigate, even for those who are rather web-savvy.
These sites and apps are often intentionally designed in a way to frustrate users and have them give up. All you have to do is just read some of the news articles about the current Florida unemployment benefits website and people’s experiences with it.
Now add to that if English is not your native tongue. Add to that, as well, if you don’t have a computer or a smartphone, and are also elderly and are at the mercy of going to a public library if you have no family or friends to assist and advocate for you when English or an internet connection is required.
I’m beyond grateful that my family was able to help my uncle financially while he got this ironed out, but now I imagine those who don’t have someone to reach out to or lean on.
It’s the principle of the thing. He’s lived and worked in this country for more than 60 years. Paid taxes. Became a citizen. Married here. Had a family here. Bought a house here. He’s paid into the Social Security program and, based on his income, he’s entitled to food assistance.
I understand that programs lose budget dollars. But considering my uncle’s income is solely his Social Security check, there’s no reason he should have been knocked off the rolls to begin with.
When I first began trying to get information about his case, I would even stress that if they could simply provide a letter stating the reason for his removal from the rolls, that would be the end of it. But if he’s entitled to this — which everything I could locate told me he was — I kept reaching out and calling until something shook loose.
To say the process was frustrating is an understatement. This wasn’t something that got resolved in just a few days or weeks. There were weeks I would be calling agencies multiple times to continually follow up on my uncle’s reapplication process.
But if you remain consistent, keep contacting and keep networking — read that as politely bugging and nicely pestering — until you find people who can guide you through whatever process you’re dealing with, you can get results.