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Long waits for hearings on welfare challenges

A Michigan Department of Human Services office in Detroit was the scene of protests, confusion, and anger this morning.  This was the day people losing welfare cash assistance had a chance to challenge that decision, but the hearings were delayed.

People losing cash-assistance were told to be at the Department of Humans Services office at 8 o’clock this morning and to be prepared to spend the day waiting for their teleconferenced hearing to be conducted.  Three hours later, the hearings had not started.

Maria Wheeler filed paperwork to have her hearing in person at a later date.

“People are still in there waiting.  There’s no one even to call them yet.”

The union representing DHS staff picketed the office that morning, saying it was unfair to the poor of Michigan to cut off benefits.  Ray Holman with UAW Local 6000 also expressed concern for DHS workers who are sometimes assaulted by clients who are frustrated with the loss of social services.

Senator Coleman Young, II, a Democrat, was at the office, angry at the Republican led effort that cut cash assistance to the poor to a 48 month lifetime limit.

“What happened to compassionate conservatism?  I think right now this is conservative carnivorism if you ask me.  And I think this is the result of it.  And I think this is just wrong and shameful. Period!”

Representative Fred Durhal, Junior was also outside the office, trying to help people who had been waiting for hours for hearings to start.  Representative Durhal sys cutting the assistance is a bad idea and the timing is terrible.

"They're going to be thrown off the social services and they don't have anywhere to go. ANd the hardest and worst thing you can do is to do this to people right at the holiday season."

More than 900 hearings are to be held around the state today and tomorrow.

Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Radio from 1998-2010.
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