The New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty said thousands of families in need of food assistance and health care still aren’t receiving them fast enough because of the state’s mismanagement.
Attorney Sovereign Hager says the state Human Services Department had a backlog of 17, 000 unprocessed cases in November and that the department isn’t complying with previous court orders to improve procedures.
“That’s unacceptable. Eligible families are going without food and medical care when decisions aren’t made timely," Hager said. "The state needs to take action and get that fixed now, or at least set a deadline for when that will be fixed, and we have neither.“
Hager presented these concerns to a U.S. District Judge during a status hearing on Wednesday. The hearing is part of an ongoing case against HSD that last year included state employees testifying that they were instructed to falsify applications for emergency food assistance.
The department’s spokesperson says HSD is working on speeding up the application process, exceeding federal timeliness standards and meeting the court’s deadlines for compliance.