Many welfare recipients in Spokane agree that something has to be done to change the system.
But they don’t necessarily agree that what Gov. Gary Locke and the Legislature have done is the right something.
“They’re trying to get people off welfare, and that’s a good goal,” Ron Glow, 34, said of the welfare reform law as he stood in line for food stamps Thursday at the east Spokane office of the state Department of Social and Health Services.
“They should make it a little tougher to stay on.”
Requiring recipients to work will help, he says.
Glow has worked for a temporary employment agency for several years, applying for benefits when he’s between jobs. Now he has a job as an assistant apartment manager, which doesn’t pay much but offers some chance for advancement.
He has mixed feelings about the five-year lifetime limit on welfare benefits. It’s better than the two- and three-year limits that some politicians had proposed. But he wonders what will happen to people who truly need help when their time runs out.
Like other welfare recipients interviewed by The Spokesman-Review, Glow was unsure how some aspects of the new law will affect him.
“I think there’s a lot more to it than just saying, ‘Go get a job,”’ said Diane, who asked that her last name not be used. She was waiting with her 19-year-old daughter, Melinda, who was applying for medical assistance so she can get a prescription filled that would help with her difficult pregnancy.
“It has to be an individual thing,” said Diane. “Everyone needs to do the best they can, but most people do.”
Requiring welfare recipients to make copayments for health care is a bad idea, she said. Many can’t afford anything extra for health care.
Jeanie Miller, who was applying for food stamps, agreed that without stricter limits, some people will abuse welfare.
But five years for benefits in a lifetime? Sometimes, that’s more than enough, but not always, Miller said as she set aside the pink flower she was crocheting for a shawl for her granddaughter.
What about the people who go to school or get training while they’re on welfare, get a job, then get laid off again? she wondered.
Miller, 41, raised two children on welfare, then found work as a bartender. She recently was laid off and now is applying for food stamps until she can find another bartending job.
If that had happened under the new rules, she would have lost benefits long ago.
“If you get all the help you need, five years is enough,” said Kellie Raines, 35, as she waited to talk to a caseworker. “It depends on where you are in your life.”
The clock doesn’t start ticking for the new time limits until July 1, but Raines, who is a cosmetologist at Fantastic Sam’s, wasn’t concerned about that. She doesn’t plan to be on welfare long enough to hit that deadline.
“I’m going to be doing something constructive with my life.”
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo
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