Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Stampeding for Section 8 Vouchers in Dallas

Thousands of people were waiting in front of the Jesse Owens stadium in Dallas to fill out an application for Section 8 housing vouchers, an assistance program that would help them pay their rent. Some people waited all night. Others arrived at 4 am. At 6 am, officials decided it was time for everyone to line up. There was a stampede. Fortunately no one was seriously hurt.

From the Dallas Morning News:

Applicants on Thursday ranged from young single mothers pushing strollers to older adults with nothing but a small Social Security income. Many in line have jobs but barely earn minimum wage.

While a few people brought water and umbrellas to cope with the summer heat, the increasingly hot sun became a problem for some.
Using a cane, Jackie Barrett slowly walked to the front of the line to get help around 8 a.m. The Lancaster woman said she could not stand in line any longer. She had arrived about 4 a.m. County officials provided immediate help to disabled people.

Single mothers with babies in strollers and elderly people were standing in line for hours just to fill out an application. Could this county have created a more degrading and inhumane method of "helping" people?

One resident did not get the chance to apply at all. Claudia Marshall said she is disabled and could not leave her home to apply.
Thompson, the county’s director of health and human services, said anyone could send a representative. Marshall, who called The Dallas Morning News, said she had no one to send.

Why isn't this being done online? And why isn't there outreach available for those folks who are disabled?


Thompson said he would reassess the county’s process after news reports of the stampede. He said the county did not allow people on the facility property because officials did not want overnight camping. Still, he admitted that the county could not prevent people from arriving the night before.
“This is what you have to go through,” Thompson said. “It’s like when someone wants to get tickets to a sports event or the latest iPad.”

Well no. It's not like that at all. Tickets to sports events are a luxury purchase. Housing is a basic human need.

That this man sees them as the same thing is troubling, especially given his position as the county director of health and human services. Would he want his grandmother treated this way?

Poverty is not a crime, and the increasing numbers of people who need help in this terrible economy should not be treated like criminals.

cross-posted at MainSt/workingamerica.org

1 comment:

DissedBelief said...

Our federal and state governments are really not adept at social services. There is a mindset in our nation, primarily with the right wing, that any assistance is a sign of weakness, of failure perhaps, of ineptitude and a hint at a nation lacking in brute strength. I find this extraordinarily primative. I've supported organizations that encourage family planning, birth control and education in family development. All these have been thwarted and stymied over the years by the right wing. Their hypocrisy in feigning love for life and then denying this right to those struggling is hypocrisy at it highest. Their forked tongues fool only themselves. They are as transparent as tape, and now we are reaping the seeds sown by the half wit Bush presidency. The plundering of the social security coffers, our nations bank accounts and treasuries happily sqaundered by that party with nary a whimper, now brings us to this place. And it appears, we have a far darker place to arrive at.