No Service Here

by Kathy Powers

April 30, 2018

Where will we go

To get our food stamps?

Where will we go?

Follow the rules.


Where can we go to?

Where is the person

Who tells us if we live or die?


When did this happen?

We got no notice.

Why did this happen?

We need some answers.


Is there an answer

In our new chaos

That tells us if we’ll live or die?


Where do we go?

How will we get there?

We have no bus fare?

How can we go?


Pushed to the edge of

Chicago’s west side

Six miles across the city


Where does the truth lie?

How can we live?

How will we die?

Tell us why!


Tell us where!

Tell us how!

Tell us why!

Tell us why!

The State of Illinois moves the site of the Department of Human Services office in Uptown from the far northeast side to the far northwest side. This make State human services inaccessible to many beneficiaries.





My Journey into Medicaid Cancellation

My Journey into Medicaid Cancellation

On Oct. 25, 2014, I received a DHS letter stating that “beginning 2014 your benefits will change as follows: YOUR MEDICAL BENEFITS WILL STOP.”

“Reason for this action: “YOU DID NOT RETURN YOUR REDETERMINATION FORM BY 10/14/14.”

On the back of the form, the letter said, “If you continue to need medical help, you may reapply.”

Day 1:

I hopped on the Red Line to 5050 N. Broadway to check with my DRS caseworker, who provided me with DRS paperwork.

While I sat waiting for the papers, I witnessed the “greeter” who yelled at an Asian woman, “What is your disability? DISABILITY?” The lady did not understand. “He said DISABILITY. What’s WRONG with you?” She said she is caring for her mother and wants reimbursement. The greeter asked what her mother’s name is. She gave a name and he looked her up in the computer and couldn’t find the mother. The lady said her mother wasn’t signed up for Medicaid. The man told her she had to sign her mother up. He walked away and another caseworker came over and discovered that the mother was 88 and not eligible for Medicaid. The daughter had to go to the Dept. of Aging. The lady was ready to cry so I told her where the Dept. of Aging was and that they would take good care of her. The greeter came back and said to the other caseworker, “I already talked to her.” I said, “She doesn’t understand.” He muttered under his breath, “She just doesn’t want to understand.”

After I received my paperwork, I went down to the “Family Community Resource Center Uptown” what was stated to be me DHS on a notice dated November 3, 2014. I entered a small waiting room with 45 filled chairs in it and about 30 more people standing and milling around. In the very back corner of the room was a security guard. I told her I wanted to apply for Medicaid so she gave me a number and a form to fill out. I  waited about an hour and was called to a window. I told the caseworker my problem, and he refused me serve me because he said I had to go to the Skokie office because that was where I was assigned. I asked him if I could change my office. He said it was possible, but it would take about 45 days. It was at this point that I began coughing, wheezing and sweating. The air seemed very stale and I became very anxious and had an asthma attack.

I left the office and as soon as I got outside, I felt better. Since it was late in the afternoon, I decided to go home and go to Skokie another day when I felt better. So I took the 36 bus back home.

Time elapsed, day 1: 2.5 hours

Day 2:

I hopped on the Red Line to Howard Street and caught the 97 bus to Oakton and St. Louis. I joined over 200 people waiting to see a caseworker. There are no caseworkers assigned to any one person so everybody had to wait. Again, like Uptown’s office, a desk with a security guard in the back of the room handed out number cards, depending on what you wanted to do. She gave me two cards: one to change my office (express line) and one to submit my application. I asked her if I should wait before changing my office so my file wouldn’t get lost. She said to go ahead and change the office first. Against my better judgment, I went to the express line and asked the man if I should wait before I change my DHS office. He said that yes, I should wait; in fact, my caseworker could do it all. I thanked him and sat down to wait for someone to call my caseworker number. After 45 minutes, they called my number, which I handed in. In the meantime, a half an hour later, I became very hot and sweaty, the room reeked of feces and when I entered the Ladies Room (inaccessible for handicapped), wet toilet paper line the based of the entire room and I had to flee from the building so that I wouldn’t vomit. Took the 97 bus to Howard Red Line and then home.

Time elapsed, day 2: 3 hours

Day 3:

In the morning the next day, I hopped on the Red Line to Howard Street and caught the 97 bus to Oakton and St. Louis. I joined over 250 people waiting to see a caseworker. I got a new number from the back desk, and the office smelled clean and the floors were clean. I thought I’d have to wait a longer time than the day before, and was pleasantly surprised to have my number called within 20 minutes. A caseworker called me within 10 more minutes. I had to sit in a temporary cubicle in the main waiting room to talk to my caseworker, with no privacy afforded me. I showed her my paper work and she made a copy of my bank statement that was the documentation missing from my predetermination report. This took about 15 minutes. When I left, there were almost 300 people waiting.

Time elapsed, day 3: .75 hours

Total time elapsed: 6.25 hours


This is a mild case of how that State of Illinois, Department of Human Services treats its customers. It gives insufficient time to complete reports, gives conflicting and incomplete information, treats people disrespectfully, and keeps its facilities so dirty that customers may become ill. This is our fight, and removing these blights is our goal.

Please contact Kathy Powers to help the poor regain their dignity. If you have experienced problems in the DHS offices, join our team to solve these problems. You’ll be glad you did.

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