Welfare Time Limit Begins to Affect Relief Recipients

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Sat, 1 Aug 1998 17:39:50 -0700 (PDT)

FWD  Los Angeles Times  July 28, 1998

     Hundreds of people a month are expected to lose assistance
     as cutoff after five months of aid kicks in.

     By Amy Oakes, LA Times Staff Writer

One homeless man who has lived on the streets of the San Fernando Valley
for three years said losing his General Relief benefits has left him more
adrift than ever.

The assistance, which ended July 1 because of a new five-month limit, was
all the income he had aside from the few dollars he gets from recycling

"Now, without the $220 a month, I'm out in the middle of the stream," said
the 61-year-old Nevada native, "and I don't have the power to get to either

County officials and advocates for the homeless said that about 6,500
people in Los Angeles County lost General Relief assistance as of July 1.
Hundreds more are expected to lose benefits each month, they said.

The General Relief time limit, approved last year by a cash-strapped county
Board of Supervisors, applies unless recipients are unable to work because
of mental or physical disabilities. Tens of thousands of recipients who are
considered employable expect to lose benefits, which amounts to a $212
general grant and $9 for clothing per month for most of them.

Advocates said many recipients are seeking help and explanations, but it is
too early to gauge how desperate their situations will become. The
five-month limit took effect Feb. 1.

"We're supposing that for the first month people will find ways to cope,
but in the long run, we are expecting some problems," said Natalie Profant
of the Los Angeles County Homeless Authority.

Profant said the authority this month sent surveys to 64 agencies that
assist the homeless and poor to measure the effect of the benefits time

Advocates said food stamps were not cut and recipients may reapply for aid
after seven months without assistance.

John Horn, program coordinator at the San Fernando Valley Homeless Center,
said he has seen about 10 to 15 people who have been taken off General
Relief come into the Los Angeles Family Housing Corp.-funded center. Most
are looking for bus tokens, a place to shower and referrals for food and

"The potential impact hasn't been fully felt yet, but it's starting to pick
up momentum," Horn said.

Herman Jones, a service advocate at the Los Angeles Family Housing's East
Los Angeles homeless service center, said the time limit is giving many of
his clients a sense of urgency about finding a job. Before, they were less
energetic about looking for work, Jones said. "They are a little more
frantic, more panicky."

Several of those struggling to make ends meet said they felt squeezed by
the time limits, despite their efforts to improve their lives.

Megan Nuckolls, 22, who has applied for General Relief, said five months
doesn't seem like enough time to find work, make a deposit on an apartment
and get caught up on bills. Nuckolls, who arrived in Los Angeles about a
month ago from Oklahoma, said she has been living at a North Hollywood
shelter while she looks for even menial work.

She said she came to Los Angeles to pursue an art career in computer
graphics. So far, the only art she has done is a mural at the shelter's
school. She worries about ending up on the street. "I'm scared to death
that it's the only alternative," Nuckolls said.


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