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Letter: State programs frustrating for the poor

Published January 16, 2014 1:11 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Oh, to be poor.

I try to help a family who is here seeking asylum. In mid-November, I accompanied the mother to the Salt Lake office of Workforce Services to apply for state-run H.E.A.T. (Home Energy Assistance Target). We were directed to two chatting women: "We can't help you unless you have either an appointment or a 48-hour shut-off notice. Then you can be seen. You need to call or go online for an appointment."

Hmmmm. Frustrating. I stepped five feet away and called. The first available appointment in that office was end of February. There was one, however, at the end of January in West Valley. (Inconvenient.)

Today I called the program to confirm our appointment. After several minutes, it was declared that the program's calendar shows that our appointment had been canceled — with no explanation. "Would you like to take the next appointment at end of February, or if you prefer, Salt Lake mid-March?"

Wow. Beyond frustrating.

So, my friend has two choices. Stop paying her bill to get a shut-off notice, or wait until nearly spring to get help paying for heat. I wonder how anyone can overcome poverty with obstacles like this.

Phoenix Ostermann

Salt Lake City