The city last week denied that the growing lines of people waiting in the cold to get social services help had anything to do with a recent Fire Department inspection of the building at 500 DeKalb Avenue.
The denial follows several complaints of the long lines of people standing outside the building – some with small children – throughout the day waiting for help with living and rental assistance and food stamps at the center.
Some on the line said they seem to be growing especially long on Mondays and Tuesdays – sometimes snaking around the corner – and that they stem from a recent Fire Department inspection, which found the jobs center site to be overcapacity with people.
But a city Human Resources Administration (HRA) said the inspection didn’t result in any violations.
“HRA follows strict building occupancy rules at all of our centers. On rare occasions, such as higher-than-usual volume of people at a particular time, special measures are taken by staff to be in compliance with the law and mindful of the safety of staff and those seeking services,” said the spokesperson.
The spokesperson sidestepped questions about if the city plans to offer those waiting out in the cold a hot drink or perhaps install some barriers to soften standing in the winter cold.
“If needed and mindful of safety, our staff can make people stand outside following the building’s occupancy rules. We do what we can to serve clients who have to or choose to come to the centers as fast as possible,” said the spokesperson.
The spokesperson said the brunt of this story should be used to encourage clients to save visits to the centers by using some of the technology tools available such as online food stamps applications and food stamps recertification by phone.
But many in and around the line said they come because they are in dire straits.
“The economy is messed up and a lot of landlords are trying to kick people off Section 8 and people are losing their apartments,” said one middle-aged man, adding that full-time jobs paying a liveable wage are few and far between.
“A lot of black people have got felonies from years ago, especially black males and they don’t expunge the records even if they happened years ago,” he added.