Local News

Durham Social Services Provides Canned Goods, Kerosene Vouchers to Hundreds

Posted January 26, 2000

— TheDurham County Department of Social Servicessays it will open again Friday if necessary after hundreds of residents, many angry and frustrated, waited for relief that some say never came.

The line at DSS stretched down a city block Thursday morning, and as the crowd grew larger, tempers got shorter. The mood was not helped by delays; the doors were supposed to open at noon, but did not.

Staffers had two things working against them. "One, an overwhelming number of people, but the second is we had to have staff picked up. They have not delivered the staff here," said social services director Dan Hudgins.

There was more trouble once employees did arrive. Dozens of people refused to move for an employee's car, for fear of losing their place in line. A dozen sheriff's deputies were called in to keep the crowd under control.

Misinformation contributed to the problem. Most of the people in line thought they were waiting for grocery vouchers and help with their utility payments, but social services was only handing out canned food and kerosene vouchers for people in urgent need.

Many people left empty-handed and angry, leaving a more manageable crowd behind. Some who did get assistance still were not satisfied. Others were simply grateful for a bag of groceries and some reassuring words.

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