Sleeping on the job?

A black cellphone sits face down on a black surface

Photo by Lorenzo Rui on Unsplash

It’s bad enough that they took the extra allotment from the pandemic emergency from those of us who still need it. They’re also not submitting our mid-certifications on time. Allow me to explain.

For those of you who don’t understand what a “mid-certification” is; it is a process for people who receive SNAP/EBT (Or “food stamps” for short) to recertify for government benefits.

There is an app called “District Direct,” which is approved by the government and the Office of Mayor Muriel Bowser that allows you to keep track of your own case and be the head of your own case. Therefore, people don’t have to stand in long lines and wait long hours for something that only takes 30 to 60 minutes to do or wait on a case manager to do the job for them.

I recently recertified Jan. 9 (which is documented on the app) and got a message on Feb. 28 that said my case was closed. I called the Department of Human Services (DHS) customer service line, explained my situation, and they stated that it was an error on their behalf and that I didn’t have to worry about it until July, which means I would be getting them in March.

Now I have another app on my phone which is called “Providers.” It also sends you a notification on your phone to tell you when your money will be deposited, how much you spent, etc. It is usually within the two week time frame before you actually receive your payment. If you don’t receive any notifications from the Providers app within 5 days before it’s actually time for you to receive your payment, that means that it’s time for you to recertify on the District Direct mobile app.

So once I noticed that I didn’t receive the notifications on the Providers app (within the time frame), I called DHS customer service and explained to them what happened the first time I called and told them that it’s happening again. They said that a case manager didn’t put my mid-certification in on time and that they’re going to have to submit an emergency case review which could take up to 30 business days. I asked what I should do in the meantime because I hardly have any food. I was advised to go to food banks, which are not open on the weekends.

Stuff like this is what we call “sleeping on the job.” “Sleeping on the job” is a statement/saying from us minorities (as you all so deem us) to you corporations, private/non-profit organizations and government employers/employees that when you do a half-ass job, you are putting us through the very same situation you all claim that these funds are supposed to prevent us from. Really? And who gets penalized for this system? We do.

No one gets fired, no one gets investigated. Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if they won’t be asked to give a urine sample/test while we’re starving, and have to go back to standing in line at the soup kitchen, and gambling on rather it’s worth going through fighting and fussing in line to wait on food because people want to cut in line, or go back to panhandling for food all because you all are “sleeping on the job.”
So I did a little bit more research and found out that since I’m no longer homeless, I have to show a copy of my leasing agreement to get recertified. Not only that, they said that I’m supposed to show a “DCORR (DC Office of Refugee Resettlement) work registration.” From my understanding, that’s for non-American citizens.

What the hell is that all about? I was born and raised on the south side of Chicago (unless that’s an alienated city they don’t consider as part of America). Every time I call, I’m never given this information. It’s as if they don’t have it or they’re intentionally not giving it to me. They tell me that it’s a technical error and that it was something that was on their behalf and nothing that had to do with me.

Still, I haven’t received compensation for something that they did. If I submitted my recertification on Jan 9, then why hasn’t nobody noticed this? Here we are in April and they’re still telling me that they don’t know what the issue is. Are these people coming to work high? Cause that’s exactly what it sounds like. I’m just saying.

Instead of some DHS or government employees trying to resolve the situation, they create more problematic situations to occur. For instance, I’ve had the phone hung up on me by government employees, been talked over because of asking the right questions, denied grievances by implying that they don’t either have one, or not sending me or directing me in the right direction of one, complaints not being answered, calls not being returned, etc.

Whoever is in charge of monitoring these funds, y’all need to wake y’all asses up and get on y’all job or get the hell out of office.

Donté Turner is an artist and vendor with Street Sense Media.

Issues |Civil Rights

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