It's an appalling situation and one that simply shouldn't be allowed to continue. Food stamp recipients and job hunters who show up at the Northern Brooklyn Food Stamp and DeKalb Job Centers are finding that they need to wait hours – if not more than a day – for service. At a recent City Council hearing, HRA officials proudly explained that they would be hiring dozens of new food stamp eligibility specialists. Agency spokesman Nick Scorza even bragged that the recent additional hires have caused "the elimination of lines at our centers."
Extremely Long Waits
Why then, food stamp recipients want to know, are clients waiting an entire day at the DeKalb center to get services? Why then, should Portia Thornton say,
"The wait is actually very long. "They're always short on staff, computers shutting down, so it's horrible.”
In addition, clients have been complaining that the staff isn't polite or sensitive to the situation most clients find themselves in. As Dwayne Andrews, who is currently on disability, said,
"A lot of them don't have diplomacy; they're very nasty and hostile and belligerent. They got issues they need to address."
All Is Fine, Says Scorza
Scorza countered that all of the employees receive customer service training. Eddie Rodriquez, the president of the New York Administrative-Clerical Workers Local 1549 said that the workers are doing the best job they can within their difficult situation.
Clearly, something is wrong when hungry people are left to line up in the cold for hours to receive food stamps, and are then treated poorly by the overworked and understaffed employees.
Rodriquez testified at the City Council meeting that HRA is in need of 200 new food stamp eligibility specialists. To date, only 44 have been hired. It's time to take a more careful look at this situation to help the city's poor and needy to receive the services they need with dignity.