- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 18, 2021

Sheryl Augustine has lived in the Ward 5 neighborhood of Carver-Langston area for 12 years, and says slow mail delivery has become “extremely crippling” in recent days.

“I’ve been working from home during the pandemic and relying on mail delivery for packages and such,” said Ms. Augustine, 46, who works for a local nonprofit. “[It’s extremely] frustrating to not be able to [order] essential items because [you’re] unsure if you will receive it or not.”

She is among dozens of residents in the northeast part of the District who say their first-class mail has not been delivered by the U.S. Postal Service in nearly a month.

Latoya Moore, commissioner of the Ward 5 Advisory Neighborhood Commission, reached out to local leaders last week pleading for help as residents have been calling and stopping by the post office on Brentwood Avenue. In an email to The Washington Times, she said that “[s]eniors haven’t received medications, residents haven’t received mailed stimulus checks, credit cards/statements, and bills.”

“The USPS is a very critical part of our everyday lives and that is being taken for granted for all that is involved,” Ms. Moore said. “Supervisors will not return calls or emails. There are excuses garnered EVERY DAY. Please help.”

A USPS spokesperson told The Times that “all available mail” is delivered weekly, “[b]arring unforeseen circumstances.”

“The Postal Service recognizes that consistency is paramount to our customers,” the spokesperson said in an email last week. “Rest assured, we take these matters seriously and encourage customers to contact us. Doing so helps us to quickly rectify service issues if they may arise.”

That provides little solace to Carver-Langston resident Norma Rivera. The 44-year-old grocery store worker says she has not yet received the birthday presents her parents sent around mid-March.

“[It] has led me to become frustrated and jaded by our local USPS mail delivery system,” Ms. Rivera told The Times.

Ms. Augustine says residents “are all being told [a] different story” regarding the delays, such as  the mail carrier was on vacation, the post office did not have their mail and that staff shortages are to blame.

Ms. Moore said she and a few neighbors waited more than an hour at the post office for a supervisor who never showed up.

She said some residents reached out to Mayor Muriel Bowser, who referred them to D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, who directed them to fill out a “missing mail” request.

Complaints about mail delays have been piling up nationwide since U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy took over the agency last June. Mr. DeJoy testified to Conress in February that the issues stem from “years of financial stress, underinvestment, unachievable service standards, and lack of operational precision.”

The USPS Board of Governors called on Mr. DeJoy to come up with a solution, which he unveiled on March 23.

The “Delivering for America” 10-year Strategic Plan states that the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the organization’s long-standing problems involving employee availability, volume of mail and transportation.

Nearly 20% of the 644,000 employees have reportedly missed work due to quarantine, package volume has “increased dramatically,” and the scarcity of airplane and truck capacity has impacted delivery.

The plan aims to avoid a projected $160 billion in losses by closing some post offices, cutting office hours, increasing prices and lengthening delivery service standards.

If approved, the current one- to three-day service standard for first-class letters sent within the U.S. would shift to one to five days. The agency says the adjustment would move delivery from “costly and unreliable” air transportation to ground transportation.

“This will improve the reliability and predictability of service for customers, while reducing expenses,” the plan states.

USPS said it will seek feedback from the public, stakeholders and the Postal Regulatory Commission before any changes are implemented.

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