October 24, 2023

Congressman Castro Demands Answers After USPS Ends Cluster Box Maintenance, Threatens to Halt Mail Delivery for Thousands of San Antonio Residents

WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20) released a letter he sent to the San Antonio headquarters of the United States Postal Service (USPS) demanding answers and accountability after USPS suddenly ended a longstanding policy of maintaining the cluster boxes that San Antonio neighborhoods rely on for safe and secure mail delivery.

“For years, my constituents have been able to count on USPS to maintain and replace neighborhood cluster boxes. However, in recent months, USPS has newly claimed that box maintenance is a neighborhood responsibility and refused to provide longstanding repair services,” Congressman Castro wrote in his letter. “In December 2022, the Oakmont Downs HOA requested that USPS repair a box that was damaged in an act of vandalism. After multiple unanswered requests and without warning, the Cedar Elm post office told my constituents that the HOA is responsible for maintaining and replacing their cluster boxes. I am concerned that as USPS updates policies to lower operating costs, these new policies negatively impact mail delivery. I understand that USPS must update its operating procedures from time to time, but I am worried that these shifts in policy implementation are placing an undue burden on my constituents.”

The letter was sent in response to eight separate constituent complaints from San Antonio homeowner associations that represent thousands of residents. USPS is currently withholding neighborhood mail delivery to affected residents and has warned that mail arriving after November 1, 2023, will be marked as undeliverable and returned to sender. If implemented, these mail rejections could affect everything from paycheck delivery to medication-by-mail for seniors and homebound residents.

To read the full letter, click here.

Background on Congressman Castro’s Work to Protect Mail Delivery

In recent years, Congressman Castro and a broad coalition of bipartisan congressional leaders have pushed back against major operational changes at USPS that threaten effective and efficient postal services in San Antonio and nationwide. Shortly after assuming office, current Postmaster General Louis DeJoy implemented a number of controversial measures that delayed mail delivery and processing. After receiving complaints from his constituents about mail delays, Congressman Castro scheduled a visit to the main San Antonio post office to conduct congressional oversight. Ahead of Congressman Castro’s visit, as local news reported at the time, postal workers were ordered by their superiors in Washington to conceal between 30,000 and 54,000 pieces of delayed mail and obstruct Congressman Castro’s oversight.

Shortly after the visit, Congressman Castro voted for the Delivering for America Act, a bill that would have provided $25 billion in funding to help USPS with the operational challenges created by the coronavirus pandemic while blocking major changes to postal operations that delay or diminish mail delivery. The Delivering for America Act passed the House of Representatives but failed to pass the Republican-controlled Senate.

Two years later, with Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, Congressman Castro voted to pass the Postal Service Reform Act, which requires USPS to maintain mail delivery six days a week and publish a weekly dashboard of performance data to help the public monitor service failures and identify mail slowdowns. President Joe Biden signed the Postal Service Reform Act into law in April 2022.

Despite the progress mandated by federal law, Congressman Castro and his colleagues have continued to receive complaints from their constituents about troubling new practices at USPS. In August 2023, Congressman Castro and a group of San Antonio congressmen wrote to DeJoy to express their alarm about a sudden decision to stop providing water bottles to letter carriers during this summer’s historic heat wave. After congressional pressure, USPS agreed that letter carriers would not be punished if they stopped for cold water during their routes but refused to resume water bottle distribution.

Congressman Castro is committed to protecting federal mail operations. San Antonio neighborhoods who are facing issues with mail delivery are encouraged to get in touch with his office by calling 210-348-8216.