Drug Testing Proposal for Welfare Recipients

ILLINOIS (WIFR) -- Several new proposals at the State and Federal Level could force welfare recipients to take random drug tests in order to receive benefits.

"There are screw ups and fraud in the system but the majority of people have just fallen on terribly hard times,” said Jennifer-Estes.
Her home is a one bedroom apartment paid for by the government and furnished with abandoned items, including her bed, made up of stacked blankets and quilts. Sometimes, she says they’re not enough to keep her warm.

“I’d like to be able to go buy toilet paper instead of asking a food pantry for help,” she said.

It’s a goal Estes is trying to reach, although she says she can’t find a job, so she sells her plasma to help pay some of her bills, which is why she says she’s frustrated with several new proposals that would require welfare recipients like her to take drug tests in order to receive benefits. She calls her situation humiliating enough.

“Every time I have to swipe my card people look at me like at Wal-Mart do you think it’s nice to the 80 year old woman collecting food stamps to have to take a cup into a bathroom and pee and if you drug test one you are going to have to drug test all," said Estes.

The purpose of this legislation is not to be punitive the purpose is to identify individuals who are using state moneys and using it to buy drugs and alcohol and that means money is not being used for their children.

Right now there are multiple proposals at the state and federal level, that could require these drug tests. State rep. Joe Sosnowski thinks the proposal is fair considering most employers ask for the same
requirements, however Rockford's Housing Authority disagrees.

"I just think at what point do you want government scrutiny in your backyard. I understand why people get heated over the issue. I think we need to look at every person’s rights,” said Ron Clewer CEO of RHA.

Rights, Estes says she's trying to protect, while fighting to make ends meet.

The Rockford Housing Authority has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to drugs. If a tenant is caught using drugs, they could get kicked out.