Thursday, May 04, 2006

Salvation Idiocy

One of our tenants, a Katrina survivor, applied to the Salvation Army for food-stamp assistance. When she first went down there they set up an appointment with a case worker for later in the month, and told her what she would need to bring with her. One item was a lease from her landlord. When she said she didn't have a lease, they told her to bring a letter from the landlord stating how long she had lived there, what the rent was, and whether she was current or not. So, I did that.

When she finally met with the caseworker, she was told that she had to have a written lease because the letter wasn't "legal." I called the caseworker and explained that a verbal month-to-month agreement is quite legal, and in fact that is what it's called in court whenever we've had to evict someone.

The caseworker could think of nothing but "it's our policy that all applicants have a written lease." I asked how "legal" was it for me to come up with a fictitious written lease for the period our tenant has lived there, when none existed before. Again, all this woman knew was that the policy said "written lease," so that's what it had to be. She opined that she had even checked with her supervisor and was told the same thing. Sigh. So, I did that, too. I hope that will satisfy them so our tenant can receive assistance.

This got me to thinking about how policies are arrived at in the first place. They're just guidelines for lower-echelon employees to follow. That's because these employees have no authority (or, in some cases not enough brain cells) to make decisions based on common sense.

We've all had experiences like this, although it's usually with government employees. Aren't you tired of this? I know I am. I'll have to think about whether I'll continue to send money to the Sally. I know they help a lot of people. But I wonder how many are turned away because of sheer idiocy, too.