Hurricane Ian Storm Survivors Call for Faster Relief Funds with Less Red Tape | PennLive letter

Citizens of historical means and wealth are learning that they too are a paycheck disaster away from living in poverty.

In the past, they lamented that people living in poverty made bad choices and deserved their situation. Now it’s, “What, no taxpayer-funded benefits accessible in our hour of need?”

Now the table has turned as they learn the struggle to get by. In the past, they advocated “no government documents on social services for you. Go to charities for help.

“Surviving the actual storm was the easy part,” said one survivor. “There has been disaster after disaster since that day.”

“All the shelters were full,” she said. “I was myself.”

She eventually sought help from two local nonprofit organizations that were already out of money. She went to the county, who referred her to the city, who referred her to the same nonprofits.

“I was looking for anything, but there was nothing there,” she said.

Welcome to a new reality. People living in or near poverty already understand the struggle of citizens recently impacted by Hurricane Ian.

Government-funded human services that are quick and easy to obtain are rare. Taxpayers continue to demand cuts to social services.

Economic distress has shaped the lives of millions of workers for decades. Before their storm, did these newly impoverished citizens, homeless by the hurricane, care about anyone’s economic distress?

Aid is limited and will be slow to arrive.

Right now, dial 211 for referrals for social services paid for by charitable donors at the United Way nationwide.

Going forward, the solution is to vote for leaders who genuinely champion government funding of social services, instead of gutting the budget of allowances and staff needed to implement relief plans.

Karen Overly Smith, Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania.

About Miley Sawngett

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