Home News Local news GOOD NEWS, NOT SO GOOD NEWS FOR THE POOR

GOOD NEWS, NOT SO GOOD NEWS FOR THE POOR

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Sept. 10, 2003 — Effective Oct. 1, qualified legal immigrants under age 18 may once more obtain public assistance in the form of food stamps.
Under the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002, commonly known as the Farm Bill, eligibility for food stamps has been restored for all children who are qualified aliens regardless of the time they entered the United States.
Such eligibility had been denied to permanent legal immigrants in the Welfare Reform Act of 1996, signed into law by Pres. Bill Clinton.
"The Farm Bill provision restores eligibility to these individuals," Ermin Boschulte, director of the Financial Programs Division of the
Department of Human services, said. "The other criteria must still be met, just like any citizen coming for assistance."
Qualifying criteria includes an applicant's financial resources, the amount of money in the bank and value of his or her car.
Boschulte said she could not specify on the number of legal residents that the Act would affect, but said it was good news for those who had been
struggling financially.
The local Food Stamp offices are now accepting applications and change reports for those individuals who feel that they meet the new requirements.
However, while this bit of good news came to legal residents who may be in need, families depending on public assistance were inconvenienced last week when welfare checks were delayed due to an "internal procedural
interruption," according to a release from Human Services.
Boschulte said she couldn't specify the nature of the interruption and calls to Human Services Commissioner Sedonie Halbert about the situation were not returned. A Virgin Islands Daily News story Monday quoted Ferryneisa Benjamin, assistant Human Services commissioner, as saying, "the checks, which are generated in the Finance Department, were not printed when they were supposed to be printed."
Boschulte told the Source Tuesday the checks would be run that evening and mailed out on Wednesday. She said the department hopes that the residents will receive them on Thursday.
"This is the first time in a long time that this has happened," Boschulte said, adding that the department is sorry for any inconveniences that might have occurred because of the delay.
For further information on the Farm Bill Act, contact the Financial Programs Division in St. Thomas at 774-2399, in Christiansted at 773-6050 and in Frederiksted at 772-0085.

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