The Frustration of Government Assistance

The Frustration of Government Assistance March 11, 2016
Sometimes it has felt as if there is a dark cloud over us that isn't going away.
Sometimes it has felt as if there is a dark cloud over us that isn’t going away.

I am typing this after fighting with the food-stamp office for the last 3 1/2 hours. Currently I am sitting at my computer trying to get my income tax paperwork to them for the 15th time.

I have mentioned before that I grew up poor. I come from a long line of generational poverty and I dropped out of school in the 10th grade. Every bit of education that I do have comes from life and being Catholic. A lot of people that I know are living below the poverty line in the ghetto. I am living below the poverty line in the suburbs. I am not sure which one is harder, at least in the ghetto we are all on the same page. In the burbs, I feel like I am drowning and my children feel like they are getting the short end of the stick in life. They have to work and don’t have cars while their friends get money from their parents and drive BMWs. I know a lot of people who go to my parish that have swimming pools in their backyards. Not the kind you buy at Wal-mart, but real in the ground swimming pools. And it’s considered “normal”. I see these people on Facebook talk about how “hard life is” and I want to scream. You have a freakin’ pool in your back yard, make some margaritas and go for a swim, that should help you out a little.

My husband and I were doing very well for ourselves and we were rich, at least for us it was rich. Then it all crumbled and fast. There are many reasons for that, some of it was our fault. A lot of it was just how the perfect storm hit us all at once and we couldn’t really do much except bunker down and try to make it.

It was the help of friends (some of those with swimming pools, so I hope I didn’t offend ya’ll), readers and fellow Catholic bloggers that helped us get through it and while things still aren’t stable, they are much better than a year ago so we are happy about the progress. Our adult children have made me so proud. They work, take care of themselves and offer us help when we need it. We just used one of their cars for a few days while both of our vehicles were in the shop this past week.

The issue that I see when the subject of Government run social programs comes up is seeing people talk about these programs as if they are the end all be all way to help the poor or the opposite idea: people who think that the poor are just lazy and these programs only enable them to stay poor. Both sides are wrong.

It sucks to apply for food stamps. Don’t believe me? Then you are welcome to come over and help me do it. You can go to my appointment with me and see how I am treated. You can see all the paperwork that it takes to apply so that the social worker can look at every single piece of paper just looking for any reason why you aren’t qualified for assistance. You wanna know why people lie? Because it is easier than telling the truth. I can’t lie because I’m Catholic and the last thing I need is to sit in the confessional over a food stamp application. I have enough to confess as it is. But I can say from experience that I get why people lie. We have been denied for food stamps for the last year. I can only apply every 3 months, and I do and we get denied. First because we had too many assets even though the IRS has a lien on all of it. So, as 2015 went on we lost a lot of those assets and sold a few. Our trucks got repossessed and sold off so I applied again. We were denied again because our 2014 income taxes showed that we made too much money, never mind that we were now in 2015 and things had drastically changed. Then I applied again and we were denied because we have more money coming in than is going out. You wanna know how much? $300 a month. That’s all we had after paying bills but it was enough to mean that we didn’t need assistance. That is $300 for a family of 5 in food for an entire month.

Now, I am applying again and I have sent them everything they ask for and then they ask for more. Bank statements, proof that our house is in foreclosure, proof that our bills are late but they aren’t so then the worker says “looks like ya’ll are doing better than last time”….. the list goes on and on. I just want help to buy my kids food. It’s Texas, we can’t even buy anything BUT food on the Lonestar card. So it’s not like we can take those stamps and buy anything except food.

It is a horrible invasive, humiliating, and frustrating process.

If you really want to help the poor people around you, do not rely on your taxes to do it. Find a family that needs help and help them directly. Don’t get tired of helping them or finding another family when the one you helped gets on their feet. Stop voting for people who want to raise taxes because it feels like that is enough, because it isn’t. If it is possible, help those in need because trust me, it will help them out much more than applying for assistance does.

I have lost an entire day wrestling with this application and that is fine because I can afford to lose that day, I am just a housewife and blogger. I have a lot of things that make this process much easier for me than it was before. We have computers, internet and a fax machine. There are plenty of people who do not have any of these things. (which is why I want to live in a house in the low income part of town and offer internet, computers and fax machines to people  who don’t have them to help them apply for assistance. That is what my Red Door Foundation dream is all about.)

There are a lot of people who have helped me and my family. I have a platform to ask for that help. I also have people who pay me for freelance work and I just signed a contract to publish my book. Things are getting better for me, but that is in large part because of the help of people giving us gift cards, paying our light bill directly, buying us groceries, hiring my husband to kill their bugs, and all the prayers. God always throws an attic full of rats in my husband’s lap at the right time.

My husband is my hero, I would have given up a long time ago if it wasn’t for him constantly getting out of bed and refusing to lay down and die. He inspires me every day. If it weren’t for all these people directly helping me, I don’t know where I would be.

I am not saying to abolish social welfare programs either and I’m not talking about healthcare, which is a whole other beast, but I am saying that the best way to help someone you love or see struggling is to do it directly. Not only does the money go further but it also encourages that person to keep going. Applying for assistance mostly encourages me to give up on life.

I am pretty sure that is how most poor people feel about applying for any kind of Government assistance. It is a lot to deal with when you are stressed, broke, hungry and overwhelmed by life. It is not easy to be poor in this country. Yes, we have a lot going for us but when you are broke as hell that only makes things more difficult. It’s like trying to run a marathon that you are expected to win but you have a broken leg.

Helping people directly also helps to remember the dignity of the human person instead of just seeing an “issue”, you can see a human family that is trying to make it through life. It’s the Catholic thing to do. It is a both/and conversation. We need social programs and we need to help families directly when we can.


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  • 3vil5triker .

    So is the problem the concept of government assistance or the current process and criteria used to vet people for the programs?

    And who is it that pushes the narrative that people on welfare are moochers, lazy, a drain on the economy and all around undesirable people, to the point that they end up making people go through all these hoops?

    I think your outrage is misdirected.

  • Whitey McPrivilege

    this person works harder trying to be a mooch than doing something that’s actually productive. She gets turned down every 3 months, yet it appears she can’t wait for her next opportunity to apply. She seems bent on self destruction…her past is an indication of that. The streets are littered with her types and in the end no one is going to care if she’s in the street. She needs to get her mind right more than she needs taxpayer treats.

  • captcrisis

    This is true.

    Also — scorn for those needing welfare is also driven by racial animus. To Republicans, they are “welfare queens” having 15 kids by different fathers and buying steak and champagne with food stamps, sucking the life blood from our economy.

    Which of course is nonsense. Most people on welfare are like Leticia, unlucky people who are just trying to get through life and do the best for their children. And what we spend on welfare programs is a pittance compared to what we spend on defense and what we spend to prop up parts of the economy that benefit the rich.

  • Nathaniel

    Thanks for showing up right on cue. To a lot of people, poverty can only be a symptom of laziness and evil. Glad you came to represent this important group in our society.

  • Whitey McPrivilege

    more like a necessary group…the Obama era of “giveaways for votes” is finally coming to an end. And that is important

  • Yep, you are right. We are mooches. My husband has done a tour in Iraq and Afghanistan totally mooching…. But thanks for showing up and being a voice for the clueless! God bless.

  • My point is that it’s not about vetting people to see who qualifies but more of a vetting process to make sure that people don’t qualify. A lot of people who has ever had to apply because they are in a rough place can tell you that. That isn’t always the case, but in my experience in a Republican state that is what it’s been. I am not a liberal either even though that will probably be the next thing I am told since I write for Patheos and don’t think Republicans are a gift from God.

    I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me and I am not outraged. What I want is for people to maybe consider listening to someone’s experience in real life and take it into consideration when talking about these issues instead of making blanket statements about them as if everyone and every situation is the same.

    Also to maybe look around every once in awhile and look for people who could use a little help and help them. That’s all. We all spend a lot of time in comboxes so maybe we can look up every once in awhile and see people around us.

  • Whitey McPrivilege

    are you on taxpayer treats. Millions have done tours and they’re not on gov’t assistance so don’t diminish those people that’s not what service should be used as…trying to evoke some kind of reaction.

  • Whitey McPrivilege

    He should have made the military a career…just saying.

  • 3vil5triker .

    I totally get where you’re coming from; its just that I think they use one thing (“poor people are BAD!” narrative) to justify the other (devise a process to make sure that as few people as possible qualify).

    And I do try to help once in a while where I can; I’ve been down in the dumps myself so I know what its like.

    I glad you’re doing better; more so, I’m glad you were able to be realistic about your situation and reach out for help.

  • Whitey McPrivilege

    Apparently our hot mess jesus loving food stamp needing friend missed all the efforts of the govt to get you addicted to dependency. Maybe she’s been too busy playing the victim to notice that the govt wants you on food stamps. You go girl!

  • ELIZABETH-ANNE BUONAGURA

    Tell me about it. I once was a social worker for the City of NY, quit and left everything and everybody behind to move to Europe and marry. Shortly before the marriage he changed his mind, and by then my bank account, job, health insurance and heart/soul were gone. I applied for FS, filled out a gazillion forms and was given $ 4 a week. Yep, you read that right, 4 bucks a week, so I took it for 5 months and upon renewal I basically told them in a not so nice way where they can stick that 4 bucks.

  • ModerateMom17

    It’s worth noting that not all states make it difficult. Some do an excellent job of making it simple and accessible. Texas is not one of those states. I have never had to do a meeting or phone call even, the times when I’ve needed to apply. It’s been very easy and reasonable. There are states that purposefully make it as hard as possible and they do that on purpose.

  • disqus_Kw6FkrnE6a

    I think a lot of people vote the conservative line for years, and then are astonished at just how cruel their state welfare systems are when they need help.

  • Tiffany

    What is wrong with you? Her candor is a little jarring, but I don’t know that your approval is worth $hit to anyone reading. I’m embarrassed that you feel welcome to demean someone so gleefully. Sorry, Leticia. I’m glad you’re having a better time and will throw prayers up for loudmouths, in all our varying stripes. :) We gotta stick together.

  • Whitey McPrivilege

    She’s the one that put her stuff out there to read…she’s looking for attention. And where did you get that I was approving of that blather? In your hurried attempt to bash me you completely overlooked the point that I totally disapproved of her $hit. You can stick with the losers and people who make bad choices. It WILL reflect on you.

  • Whitey McPrivilege

    It sounds like you’re making a really presumptuous, thoughtless statement there. If you are a true conservative, the last thing you would ever consider is going on taxpayer treats…again we’re talking true conservatives here, not the phonies and weak minded like you find in liberal dystopia

  • Whitey McPrivilege

    16 a month? either this was 50 years ago or you were supplementing your income.

  • Tiffany

    Just like it reflected on Jesus, all those shady associations? And I was correcting your apparent assumption that your (dis)approval mattered, apologies if that was unclear. By harassing someone so pointedly you’re sort of revealing an inflated sense of your own opinion. And If I pursue the decimation of your infantile IQ any further, the same will have to be said for me. I bid you Good Day! :)

  • Whitey McPrivilege

    Jesus did not associate with losers so lets get that straight.
    You may not see it, but my opinions do matter in some places and on these very topics. I call out phoniness wherever I see it.
    Thanks for commenting and NOW Tiffs you’re dismissed.

  • ELIZABETH-ANNE BUONAGURA

    Get lost troll. People like you sit behind your little computers in your smelly little apartments and since you are faceless spew all sorts of hatred and right wing crap, if you had to say that to her face, her Afghanistan trained husband would smack the sh** out of you, you miserable little troll.

  • ELIZABETH-ANNE BUONAGURA

    I do not believe the writer of this blog is a true conservative or a right wing anything – she shares her life on the road to finding Christ, now get lost and go outside and play with your little troll friends.

  • ELIZABETH-ANNE BUONAGURA

    God, she is a saint. If this was my blog, he woud be gone and sent outside as his little troll friends are waiting to play with him. He is a disgrace.

  • ELIZABETH-ANNE BUONAGURA

    Wrong again. Even though calling someone a loser depends on who is doing the name calling, Jesus def hung out with the despised, tax collectors, adultresses, prostitutes, sick people, people who needed a chip knocked off their shoulders. He did not hang out with the elite of society and go to tea parties.

  • Whitey McPrivilege

    He didn’t hang out with them. He tried to rehabilitate them and show them a better way…that’s not the same as hanging out. Jesus was a loner — he had no social connections. Dismissed Again!

  • Whitey McPrivilege

    Oh she is definitely not a conservative. She confirmed that by continually applying for taxpayer treats and her constant whining….that’s what libbies do.

  • Whitey McPrivilege

    I’m out everyday pushing the anti-liberalism message….liberalism is a disease. I call out foodstampers and liberal scum here and in the real world. I see you phonies with your virtual virtue daily. No one is smacking me….it would be the last they were heard from. Dismissed libbie