General Public Assistance applicants in the District still are not getting timely responses to their requests for aid, and the aid to some GPA recipients is being cut off illegally, according to a motion filed in U.S. District Court by Neighborhood Legal Services against the District government.
The motion alleges that more than half of all GPA applicants have had to wait more than 45 days to receive a check or a denial of assistance. This violates a consent order the city entered into last year in response to a suit on behalf of GPA recipients, in which the city agreed to respond to applications with a check or denial within 45 days, according to the brief.
It also charges that the city violated the consent order by cutting off assistance to GPA recipients even though they had requested an appeals hearing within the required time.
General Public Assistance is the city's main aid program for the unemployed and the disabled.
About 5,500 District residents were receiving $189 a month under the program at the beginning of this year, though the budget for the program has been cut for next year.
Audrey Rowe, commissioner of social services, said yesterday that she could not respond to the specifics of the court motion because she had not seen it and did not know its details.
"We have been monitoring it," she said of the GPA program. "What I have received seemed to indicate we were meeting the time lines."
But she said the program has had staffing problems, and the commission will have to look into the allegations.
Neighborhood Legal Services attorney Robert I. Berlow said that about 470 to 580 GPA applications are filed every month, and that more than half of those have not been processed within the agreed-upon time.
The motion by Neighborhood Legal Services contends that the "violations of this court's order are clear, numerous and well-documented."
The motion asks that the city be held in contempt of the court order and required to remedy the situation by Sept. 15.
The requested remedy includes reinstating benefits for GPA recipients whose benefits were cut off after July 1 of last year even though they had made timely hearing requests.