Sandra (not her real name) became homeless after she lost her job. She and her two small children moved into a homeless shelter, where she met HPRP staff attorney Michelle Salomon. Sandra had no food or income, even though she had applied for benefits a few weeks prior. “Neither of us knew what happened to her applications, but that she had not heard back and had no food told us something went wrong,” Michelle said.
One of the benefits that Sandra had applied for was food stamps. Households with little to no income can qualify for expedited benefits, whereby the agency processes an application within seven days (instead of 30). “Every day a family is waiting for an answer to an application is another day without food, the most basic human needs for survival,” Michelle said.
Sandra and Michelle filed an appeal. They learned that the Baltimore City Department of Social Services (DSS) had sent mail to Sandra, but not to the mailing address that she listed on her application. The appeal was an easy argument, and Sandra got her food stamps within a week of filing.
But nothing makes up for the days that Sandra and her family were hungry. Yet while living in a homeless shelter without food and while taking care of her two small children, Sandra found the determination to furiously apply for jobs.
“I can’t imagine how Sandra felt being hungry for weeks,” Michelle said. “When I am hungry, I feel weak, I have a hard time focusing, and loose motivation to do even simple tasks. I couldn’t imagine going on a job interview feeling like that.”
But Sandra did go to interviews and received an offer for a position that pays above the minimum wage. That income allowed her to sign a lease for an apartment, where she is moving with her family this week!