fare them well

tracking what’s changing for welfare, women and children

Ind. apartment owner told to give back welfare funds

In the season that celebrates giving, one Indianapolis apartment agency may be returning welfare aid for alleged illegal actions.

WRTV-TV reports the Indiana Housing Authority is calling for the owners of the Phoenix Apartments to repay $300,000.

Officials said the complex failed to disclose required information to qualify for the payments.

14748128_240x180.jpg Bud Myers, of the Indianapolis Housing Authority, said RCM Phoenix Partners, which owns the Phoenix apartments, supplied incorrect information to the agency to get federal aid. Myers also said there are other problems, WRTV-TV reports.

The apartment complex recently drew local and national attention as the location where a 3-year-old was tortured and beaten to death by her parents.

Federal rules require welfare landlords to disclose troubled business deals and legal problems. RCM has until Dec. 14 to repay the money or challenge the order.


December 10, 2007 Posted by | Busted, Courts and Crime, Legally Speaking | , , | Leave a comment

To catch a welfare thief, start with the state

In a Nov. 23 article by The Advocate out of Baton Rouge, LA, the numbers are clear, but the destination is not.

Millions of dollars are given away each year in public assistance programs such as TANF, but many government officials don’t know where they end up.

According to the article, during the past fiscal year, Louisiana spent more than $42 million in two TANF-funded cash assistance programs it administers — the Family Independence Temporary Assistance Program and the Kinship Care Subsidy Program.

But the federal law that created TANF in 1996 requires state agencies to confirm “the state has established and is enforcing standards and procedures to ensure against program fraud and abuse,” the article said.

But policy experts say the broad definition of welfare fraud makes it hard to catch.

  • Elizabeth Lower-Basch, a senior policy analyst for the Center for Law and Social Policy, said in an e-mail that she does not know of any state that puts specific limits on how TANF cash assistance may be spent, so there is technically no such thing as “misuse of funds.”
  • Kenneth Wolfe, spokesman for the national Administration for Children and Families said the federal government ultimately oversees the funding of cash assistance programs, but it is the state and local agencies that are the direct administrators.
  • “No state in the nation monitors what is purchased with the monthly benefits,” Louisiana Department of Social Services spokeswoman Cleo Allen said.

November 26, 2007 Posted by | Busted, Critiques & Critics, Legally Speaking | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

CA woman arrested for 5-figure welfare fraud

According to the Ventura County Star, one local woman may (greedily) take the cake for the largest welfare fraud case in the county.

Police this week arrested an Oxnard woman on suspicion of stealing more than $41,000 in cash aid and food stamps.

Police report she was not entitled to receive the assistance.

“This is actually one of our largest welfare fraud cases,” said Vinse Gilliam, deputy chief investigator with the district attorney.

If convicted, Teresa Arias, 34, could be sent to prison for up to three years.

Her possible illegal Ventura venture has led me to create a category dedicated to those who’ve heisted public funds.

November 19, 2007 Posted by | Busted, Legally Speaking | , , , | Leave a comment

UPDATE: Lawyer says welfare letters demanding money illegal

Two weeks ago, a New Hampshire newspaper rippled the welfare waters by writing a stinging editorial that chided a government official whose office sent letters telling welfare recipients to pay back funds — plus six percent interest.

Welfare officials in the town of Epsom violated state law when they sent the letters, according to Bob Brazil in a recent story by the Concord Monitor.

Brazil is a lawyer with New Hampshire Legal Assistance. The article says Brazil is considering challenging the town and is looking for anyone who received the letter.

I smell a class action…

By law, only property owners – not renters – can be charged interest on past due welfare assistance. In addition, the town must wait a full year after it places a lien on a person’s property before it begins assessing interest. And there is a six-year limit on what towns can collect from welfare recipients who do not own property.

Brazil believes the town violated those rules by sending the letter to all welfare recipients, not just the ones with property, and by assessing interest earlier than allowed.

Epsom’s welfare administrator, Lisa Cote, confirmed last week that she sent a “blanket letter” to all welfare recipients and did not differentiate between property owners and renters. She said she may have erred in not telling all welfare recipients they were being charged interest on all debts.

Thing is, the law concerning welfare is not clear cut. Brazil said there is no limit to how far back a town can reach if it places a lien on someone’s property. The problem came when, at a town meeting in Sept., Cote claimed the letters would set a 6-year statute on collections. But when they letters were mailed in Oct., there was no mention of the 6-year limit.

Besides that confusion comes another conclusion: it seems there won’t be a limit on collections such as this anytime soon. Epsom is part of a trend when it comes to collecting fund from low-income families in New Hampshire. The paper says several towns – Pembroke, Northwood, Warner, Webster, Concord, Loudon, Canterbury, Boscawen and Pittsfield – also collect funds in similar fashion.

November 10, 2007 Posted by | Legally Speaking | , , , | Leave a comment

Lifetime Welfare Ban for Drug-Using Parents Dooms Children

Life Sentences: Denying Welfare Benefits to Women Convicted of Drug OffensesThe findings of a report released by The Sentencing Project in 2002 are eerily accurate in predicting the fate of children of parents convicted of a drug-related offense. For several ex-offenders with low-income families, their faulty past is made present every day by fact that more than 40 states prohibit federally assistance to drug offenders.

This article not only discusses the possibility of denying more than 100,000 children benefits based on the past parental decisions; the Alliance for Children and Families suggests ways to improve state policies for these underserved children.

October 7, 2007 Posted by | Courts and Crime, Legally Speaking | , , , , , | 1 Comment