Monday, September 19, 2016

Anecdotes From Public Support in the State of California

One of my favorite moments in my little research project to see if the state provides any support for the poor is as follows.

After three weeks and no less than 10 visits to the local San Diego N. County social services center, I was told by a functionary that even though all forms had been filled out as required many days ago, that no decision had been reached.  I informed her that I was now out of food (this was clear from the beginning) and could anything be done.  She said no, but she did prepare a series of documents to show me where I could go to a homeless shelter.  (I thought this was interesting as I had not indicted that I was homeless, but she must have assumed that I was. Possibly she was just trying to be helpful in any way she could given that she was powerless to make the system work as it was supposed to).

Well I turned on the charm, by which I mean, I demanded to see a supervisor, waited another two hours, and did talk to a very nice and overwhelmed man who after about 45 minutes of intense work was able to get the program approved.  It turns out that there were further delays, but by mid-afternoon of the next day everything was resolved.

But the fun part was I mentioned to the functionary that I was writing up a document describing what public services are actually available and what is involved in getting them (listen to my words: you can not get this information from the Internet or from anything they publish....).

So I told her I was writing a document that was a result of my research, so that people could actually know what was available and how long it would take, etc.

And she looked at me with contempt and pity and said "Whatever keeps you busy".  In other words, I was completely worthless, and nothing I did or could do would be of value to anyone.

This is how the state treats poor people, in case you wanted to know, which I doubt.


  1. Michael, this is Dennis D.
    CalFresh has a 3-day expedited service. Mine took over a week but that's better than waiting a month. I'll email you at your gmail account with more info.

  2. Dennis, it is great to hear from you. It turns out that I had applied to CALFRESH once about 2 years ago and was actually approved that day, got an EBT card, and just had to return with a week (or so) with my missing documents (e.g. my Social Security card, etc). What I had not realized at the time was that this was not normal, and that somehow I had just gotten lucky the first time, or something changed in the system, or who knows what. I was only on the system for a few weeks that first time because (of course) I got a job immediately afterwards.