How Tech is Helping Poor People Get Government Aid

How Tech is Helping Poor People Get Government Aid
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How Tech is Helping Poor People Get Government Aid

How Tech is Helping Poor People Get Government Aid

Sometimes obstacles are deliberately created to help. When it became clear that Florida’s unemployment system was not responding to the onset of the epidemic, Governor Ron Desantis told CBS Miami last year that his previous administration had created it to drive people away. “It was like, ‘Let’s get in the way of all sorts of unnecessary obstacles, so people just say,’ Oh, I’m not going to do that, ‘” he said. (Mr. Desantis and his predecessor, Rick Scott, are both Republicans.)

Other programs are hampered by inadequate workforce and technology because they do not have a political impact on the poor people they serve. Historically, administrative barriers have been instruments of racial discrimination. And federal oversight can be cautious because states risk more penalties for helping the ineligible than failing to help those who are eligible.

To show that Michigan’s application was too complicated, Civilla originally turned to the theater, with officers walking through an exhibition with fake clients and pipe-in ​​office noises that meant the application’s bureaucratic journey was explored. Working with the state, the company created new applications with 80 percent fewer words; The firm now operates in Missouri.

Michael Brennan, co-founder of Civil, emphasized that Michigan’s work was bipartisan – it started under a Republican governor and continued under a Democrat – and saves time for clients and the state.

“Change is possible,” he said.

With its California portal, Code for America reduced the time it takes to apply for a food stamp by three-quarters or more. The portal has been optimized for mobile phones, which is how many poor people use the internet and it offers chat functions in English, Spanish and Chinese. In technology-rich counties, applications grew 11 percent, while elsewhere the numbers fell slightly.

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During the epidemic, the Code for America created a portal to help poor families incentive checks and claim extended child tax credits. The latter alone distributed nearly 400 million. David Newville, who oversaw the work, quoted a colleague as explaining why web design is important: “Implementation is justice.”

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