Welfare Time Limit Ups Homelessness & Hunger, 2 LA Surveys Show

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Wed, 28 Apr 1999 17:42:33 -0700 (PDT)


***********************************************************
HOMELESS PEOPLE'S VIEWS, News, Alerts, Actions & Research
4,000+ ONLINE posts by or via homeless & ex-homeless people
HOMELESS PEOPLE'S NETWORK http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn
***********************************************************

http://www.latimes.com/HOME/NEWS/STATE/t000038004.html
FWD  Los Angeles Times  Wednesday, April 28, 1999

     WELFARE TIME LIMIT BOOSTS HUNGER AND HOMELESSNESS, 2 STUDIES FIND

     Carla Rivera, Times Staff Writer

Los Angeles County's imposition of time limits on general relief
welfare benefits has done little to help recipients find work and instead
has plunged many of them into greater homelessness, two surveys released
Tuesday have found.

The loss of benefits has also increased hunger and forced recipients
to rely on soup kitchens, shelters and other community organizations for
their well-being, according to the independent surveys conducted by
researchers at UCLA and the nonprofit Shelter Partnership.

The findings are based on surveys of 276 people who were terminated
from the general relief program after the county Board of Supervisors
last year restricted cash aid to five out of 12 months. About 15,000
people lost their monthly $221 cash grant, although they remained
eligible for food stamps and health care.

"We believe the adverse impacts of general relief time limits,
especially in the areas of such basic human needs as food and housing,
are substantial enough to warrant reexamination of the county's policy,"
said Ailee Moon, an associate professor of social welfare and coauthor of
the study. The survey was funded in part by the Los Angeles Coalition to
End Hunger and Homelessness and the Institute for the Study of
Homelessness and Poverty.

At a joint news conference, Assemblyman Gil Cedillo (D-Los Angeles)
called for the elimination of time limits on the cash benefits. Cedillo
has introduced legislation that would provide a state match to the
federal food stamp employment program for counties that eliminate time
limits. The funds would be used to boost job training and education
programs and for transportation and other social services.

In a statement read at the news conference, Cedillo said: "Time limits
on the receipt of aid increase the misery and despair that very
impoverished people experience; it clearly does not lead them to
successfully find and keep employment."

Although general relief is a state-mandated program, legislators
allowed counties to impose time limits in response to the financial
squeeze of growing caseloads. More than half of all people on general
relief in the state reside in Los Angeles County. In February, the
caseload numbered about 58,000 people, down from 80,000 a year ago. Cash
aid is restricted to unemployed adults with no dependents who are
generally ineligible for other forms of aid.

Many advocates had predicted more hardship after the introduction of
time limits, but surveys released Tuesday were the first to document the
strains.

Moon interviewed 174 recipients throughout Los Angeles County. Among
the findings: 15% of the respondents lived on the streets before the
cutbacks, while 38% lived on the streets afterward; 81% of the
respondents ate at least twice a day before the cuts, but only 32% ate
two meals a day when the cuts were imposed; 61% were able to get where
they needed to go before the cuts while 23% said they could not get
around afterward.

Shelter Partnership conducted 102 interviews. Most of the results
closely resembled the UCLA findings. The number of respondents who
reported living in a homeless shelter doubled from 31% before the cuts to
61% after. Additionally, many of the respondents were extremely socially
isolated, with 38% saying they had no friend or relative in Los Angeles.

In one area where the surveys diverged, a lower percentage of the UCLA
respondents, 65%, reported looking for a job after losing general relief
benefits compared with 72% before the cuts. In the Shelter Partnership
survey, 45% of all respondents reported looking for work more often after
losing benefits. However, 84% said they failed to find work.

Most said they were hampered by having no fixed address, no means of
transportation, and a lack of training and skills. Both studies found
that participation in a job training program led to more successful job
searches and increased self-sufficiency.

County officials cautioned that the surveys were small and might not
be representative of the entire welfare population. And Patricia Knauss,
who is in charge of general relief programs for the Department of Public
Social Services, said the surveys did not take into account a new job
training program launched in February that provides more aid for welfare
recipients.

The new program provides welfare-to-work services, such as skills
assessment, classroom training, job search assistance and motivational
support. Recipients can receive aid for six months and if complying with
all requirements can receive an additional three months of cash benefits.

END FORWARD

**In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is
distributed without charge or profit to those who have expressed a prior
interest in receiving this type of information for non-profit research and
educational purposes only.**


HOMELESS PEOPLE'S NETWORK <http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn>
4,000+ POSTS by or via homeless & ex-homeless people
Nothing About Us Without Us - Democratize Public Policy