Assembly Human Services Committee Chair Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen) is seeking answers from the State Department of Human Services (DHS) as to why New Jersey residents have one of the longest waits in the country to receive word on whether they qualify for critical nutritional aid.
Vainieri Huttle sent a letter to DHS Commissioner Jennifer Velez on Friday laying out a series of questions in response to a number of reports over the summer showing New Jersey’s ‘chronically poor performance’ in administering the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), ranking 52nd out of 53 state agencies nationwide in terms of timeliness when it comes to processing applications for the program.
“The problem we have here is twofold. First, you have some of our most vulnerable residents being forced to wait an exorbitant amount of time to find out if they qualify for crucial assistance to help feed their families. As a result of this dysfunctional system, the federal government is now threatening to withhold half of the $278 million it costs our state to operate this program, a move that could threaten the well being of even more families,” said Vainieri Huttle. “This is why we need answers.”
Among the many questions Vainieri Huttle laid out in her letter is why the state’s $118 million investment in a new computer system to replace the current antiquated one has yet to come to fruition, a move that many say would alleviate most of the existing delays and communications problems.
A full copy of Vainieri Huttle’s letter is attached here.