WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, following the announcement of the planned closure of the Social Security Administration (SSA) Mitchell Street Field Office in Milwaukee, Senator Tammy Baldwin and Congresswoman Gwen Moore sent a letter calling on SSA Regional Commissioner Phyllis Smith to urgently identify an alternative Southside location so that all residents in Milwaukee have direct access to in-person SSA services.
“It is essential that all Wisconsinites have direct access to the services and benefits provided by the Social Security Administration,” said Senator Baldwin. “With the planned closing of the Mitchell Street Field Office, I am urging SSA to immediately find a new location and ensure that the residents of Milwaukee’s Southside continue to have access to in-person SSA services.”
“It is imperative that the SSA maintain a Southside field office that provides essential resources and services to Wisconsin’s largest Hispanic population and surrounding South Shore communities,” said Congresswoman Moore. “Failure to do so would place an undue burden on my constituents and exacerbate wait times at SSA field offices across the city.”
Upon learning that the SSA intended to close the Mitchell Street Field Office effective March 22, 2018, Congresswoman Moore sent formal letters to the SSA and U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) requesting they work with the City of Milwaukee to find a location convenient to her South side constituents and guarantee uninterrupted services.
In January following the announcement that the Mitchell Street Field Office would close, Senator Baldwin sent a letter urging SSA to postpone the move until key stakeholders have had an opportunity to understand and address the concerns facing community members utilizing these critical services.
The full letter is included below and available here.
Dear Commissioner Smith:
We join together today to express our ongoing concern over the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) planned closing of the Mitchell Street Field Office in Milwaukee.
We continue to believe it is essential that residents of Milwaukee’s Southside, which is home to the largest Latino community in the state, continue to have access to in-person services in their neighborhood if SSA proceeds with its plan to close the Mitchell Street location. An average of 2,200 residents visit the Mitchell Street Field Office in person each month. While we understand that SSA intends to serve those 2,200 visitors per month via other existing Milwaukee Field Office locations, we question the viability of that plan given the transportation limitations and language barriers that many of these residents face.
Our concern is shared by the community. There has been an outpouring of concern by local stakeholders in response to SSA’s announced plan to close the Mitchell Street Office. With that concern has come a strongly expressed desire to find an alternative Southside location.
From your responses, we understand that the current Mitchell Street Office has safety and accessibility issues that have prompted the move and SSA has been working with GSA to find an alternative space that meets SSA’s requirements. With Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett’s encouragement, we ask that you formally review the former Forest Home Library located at 1432 West Forest Avenue as a possible alternative SSA Field Office location. We also ask that you come prepared to discuss this and other viable options at our upcoming meeting on March 5, 2018 at the Office of Alderman Jose Perez. In order to meet SSA’s tight timeline for the planned closure of the Mitchell Street Office, we have asked Alderman Perez to expand that meeting to include our representatives as well as the offices of Mayor Barrett, State Senator Tim Carpenter, State Representative JoCasta Zamarripa, and Milwaukee Supervisor Peggy West.
Thank you for your consideration of our requests. We look forward to meeting with members of SSA staff to work together to ensure that residents of Milwaukee’s Southside continue to have access to a neighborhood location where they can easily access in-person SSA services.