The Washington Post reported today that the crush of those seeking public services has so far exceeded the district’s ability to process applications that some have been forced to spend day after day waiting in line.
It is a far cry from the near mob scene in Detroit last October, when thousands of people descended on Cobo Hall to get applications for housing and utility payment assistance from the city of Detroit. The City of Detroit Planning & Development Department had only 5,000 applications and police were called to the scene to maintain order.
Forcing those in need of public services to spend day after day waiting in line is inhumane. Even if it is not possible to find the funds for additional staff, it would take little effort to create a waiting list so that applicants need only come to the office when someone will be able to assist them. Though they will still have to wait, it will mean those who are too ill, are pregnant, or have small children won’t spend eight hours standing with no bathroom break. And already impoverished single parents will not have to either find child care or drag young children along for repeated trips.
Further, as Bread for the City’s blog, Beyond Bread, points out, those long lines at the district’s Income Maintenance Administration offices often mean taking time off from work or school. And that is something those waiting in line cannot afford.
–By Jennifer E. Cooper