Transcript for the Unhosted Version version of In the Office of Temporary Assistance
HOST IN: I’m KA. This month, Studio 360 presents “In Verse” – a multimedia reporting project combining poetry, interviews, and photography. This installment takes us to Troy, New York. A century ago Troy was a seriously thriving manufacturing town. Today, it is very much not that. We’ll hear a poem called “In the Office of Temporary Assistance,” by Susan B.A. Somers-Willett. It documents an afternoon she spent with Billie Jean Hill, a 25-year-old woman with a young son, who lost her job as a hotel housekeeper in May.
I gotta fill out, this one. New York State… Application for Temporary Assistance, which is TA, medical assistance which is MA (and under) Did you know? You have the right to receive food stamps within a few days if you are eligible and have little or no money. Answer all of the questions listed below. Do any of these apply to you? Yes or no. Pregnant? Need to establish paternity? Need child support? Drug or alcohol problem? Fuel or utility shutoff? No place to stay/homeless. I gotta reapply for my foodstamps. No food? Every 6 mos, you gotta recertify No job? oh, and let them know that I do got a job and need transportation to get back and forth to work. Recently lost income? Pending eviction? Do not write in shaded areas of this application. You have the right to receive an application when you ask for it. Did you know? When was the last time you or anyone who lives with you worked? I’ve had a job ever since 2000 and 5. Are you participating in a strike? Did you know? You can get WIC even if you are not a legal resident. I think that’s baloney. What type of work would you like to do? Could you accept a job today? Are you a felon, fleeing to avoid prosecution, in violation of parole? I have a felony, I can’t do nothing. I’m fucked all the way around. Do you live in section 8 or other subsidized housing? I can’t get no housing, I can’t get no section 8 and can’t get… no. I can’t get nothing. Do you live in a drug or alcohol rehab facility? Did you know? We must accept your application if, at minimum, it contains your name, address (if you have one) and signature. I been through a lot. People just don’t understand that. How long have you lived at your present address? Is this a shelter? These programs are meant to assist you only until you can fully support yourself and your family. Obviously. Because they don’t want you on it for a very long time. Did you know? If total expenses exceed income, explore how the household is meeting its obligations. (paper crinkle) It says, resource information. Do you or anyone who lives with you have cash on hand? Who would actually tell ‘em that? Stocks, bonds, or mutual funds? Who in their right mind is going to tell you? An IRA, Keogh, They be asking the most stupidest questions… 401-(k)? A safe deposit box? Life insurance? A burial fund? A burial space? Are you blind, disabled, or pregnant? Black, white, unknown? Are you a victim of domestic violence? Did you know? Yeah, I did know, actually. If so, when did you know it?
HOST OUT: Susan B.A. Somers-Willett, writing about Billie Jean Hill of Troy, New York. Lu Olkowski produced the story.
“In Verse” is a part of MQ2, an initiative of AIR, the Association of Independents in Radio, Inc. with support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The project was created in partnership with Virginia Quarterly Review and originally aired on Studio 360.Back