Hackensack Welfare Official Provides Valuable Lesson to Homeless About Dangers of Being Honest, Trustworthy

We need Bruce to sing about the harsh streets of HackensackReaders may vaguely recall a
homeless man by the name of James Brady from Hackensack, N.J. He
made the national news earlier in the year because he found $850 on
the street and did the right thing and turned it in. The money went
unclaimed, and when six months went by, Brady was allowed to keep
it. Then, of course, everything went to hell. The Record
of Woodland Park

Brady was denied General Assistance and Medicaid benefits by the
Hackensack Human Services Department through Dec. 31 because he
failed to report new income he received. The income, according to
the agency, was the cash he found on Main Street last spring and
that police returned to him in October after no one claimed it.

The good deed turned Brady, who was homeless at the time he
found the money, into a minor celebrity. He was featured in news
reports across the country and honored by the Hackensack City
Council. Now, he said, he’s being treated like a crook.

“This is stupid,” Brady said. “I had already proven my honesty
by turning in the $850. They were treating me like I was a
dishonest individual, like I was trying to cheat them out of the

Agatha Toomey, director of Human Services, said she was just
following rules when she denied the benefits. The rules, she said,
require any lump sum payment to be reported as income.

“I’m sorry but we had to — I had to — follow regulations,” she
said. “He only pays five dollars [a month] in rent.”

Read the whole story

The Record explained that the apartment he moved into
over the summer requires him to apply for Medicaid and $210 in
monthly assistance from the city of Hackensack. He will be losing
both until the end of the year.

Toomey (who apparently is not a Harry Potter villain despite her
name) has a reputation for running a tight ship, according to
The Record, and the city is considering dumping their own
Human Services Department and going through the county instead to
save $400,000 a year. Government welfare programs somehow manage to
develop reputations for being both very strict and very wasteful at
the same time, and the Brady case shows exactly why. Those who
follow the rules are the ones who are punished. If Brady had been
dishonest and quietly kept the money, this wouldn’t have

Fortunately for Brady, reports of his punishment by the city
have drawn more citizen donations, and a local United Way has
established a dedicated fund for him. Presumably, Toomey will be
watching those numbers like a hawk. Maybe he’ll get enough private
assistance so that he won’t need the city’s help anyway.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/11/11/hackensack-welfare-official-provides-val

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