NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC - (WECT ) - It's been over a year since the state put the NC FAST system in place. The program was supposed to help out services like food and nutrition benefits. However, we've shown time and time again how it's failing local families.
More than 12 months later, the State Department of Social Services is reporting almost 24,000 families are still waiting to get the benefits that allow them to put food on the table.
In New Hanover County, Richard Lonzson, claims he was supposed to get his benefits on Monday, however he says they still haven't come. He says waiting isn't an option, he relies on the benefits to eat every month.
For the past two years, Lonzson has studied hard at Cape Fear Community College, trying to make a better life for himself. "Coming here has changed everything, it's put me on a whole new path," said Lonzson. "Before I came here, I was homeless, and now I'm moving up and rising up, but right now I still need my benefits, pretty soon I hope I won't but now I do."
He works in the CFCC bookstore to help with bills, but says without the benefits, he doesn't have enough money for food. "I've got so many tests and exams and my thesis and I'm stressing over how to fill my belly and I'm waking up hungry."
He said he made calls everyday this week looking for answers and when he finally reached someone he was told he could be waiting for his benefits for another four to six weeks.
"It's ridiculous," said Lonzson. "They keep blaming the computer system, but it's been over a year since it was installed it's time to fix it, something has to be done."
Wect.com reached out to New Hanover County DSS and was told they are aware that many are still having problems. They say they are doing the best they can, and as they have said before, say the software is causing the problems.