The Department of Human Services (DHS) is responsible for providing critical supports to people living in or near poverty. During the recession, the demand for assistance has risen, but DHS has failed to meet the challenge. Long lines at service centers, improperly denied benefits and too few staff plague the agency. At the City Council Oversight Hearing for the Department of Human Services on February 17, the Director of DHS testified that the agency was hiring new staff and revising program operations to promote greater efficiency and accountability.
However, it has taken the agency far too long to respond to this crisis. Even now, the agency is still investing too many resources in long-term planning that may or may not produce results at the expense of immediate, proven fixes. Additionally, the District has also failed to expand the Food Stamps program and is limiting the Interim Disability Assistance (IDA) program although these benefits are urgently needed and paid for with federal dollars. The District must take action to ensure that the District families, people with disabilities and the unemployed who rely on DHS for safety net benefits get this help immediately.
Read the testimony of Legal Aid Public Benefits Supervisor Jennifer Mezey at the agency’s February 17 performance oversight hearing.