Sunday, May 10, 2009

Hit-And-Miss Relief

A timely article in today's New York Times describes the confusing patchwork of programs Americans hit by this recession must navigate to get government help:
"Aid seekers often find the rules opaque and arbitrary. And officials often struggle to make policy through a system so complex and Balkanized," Perle writes. "Across the country, hard luck is colliding with fine print."
I know what he means. I've found myself snarled in red tape a couple of times in the two months since my newspaper shut down. I won't bore you with the details. But what worries me is that it took persistence and considerable reporting skills to sort things out. What do folks who aren't investigative reporters do?
The article also links to a graphic that shows the differences in levels of state aide.
Washington state ranks somewhere in the middle on several measures of relief to needy individuals and families. We are in the top 10 states for the percentage of poor children and parents that get welfare benefits (32%) but in the bottom 10 states for the share of people eligible for housing subsidies who get them (24%).
The percentage of unemployed in our state who get benefits? Just 40%, a little under the national average.
(Photo: by JDAC)

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