Cuts hurt poor in Alameda County

Photo: Flickr user God Monster

On April 1, Alameda County will cut off General Assistance (GA) welfare leaving thousands of recipients without anything to live on for the rest of 2010. It is estimated that 7,000 people will be affected, as well as their families.

Activists say Alameda County should reverse its decision to cut benefits.

Steve Weiss of Bay Area Legal Aid writes on Oakland Local:
"The Tuesday morning Alameda County Board of Supervisors meeting may be their last opportunity to reverse a decision made last year, on a 3-2 vote, to make extensive cuts to the county’s General Assistance program.

General Assistance (GA) is a last resort safety net cash program for indigent adults without dependent children who have little or no savings or other source of income. GA is technically a loan, and must be repaid if the recipient later returns to work or qualifies for Social Security or SSI disability benefits. The maximum grant in Alameda County is $336.

Last year the county imposed several deductions from the cash grant, including a $40 medical care deduction for those who are uninsured and rely on the county medical center for health care, and a further deduction for those in shared housing. The County has also imposed an additional deduction for people whose grant is now less than their rent, which is the subject of pending litigation.

Under that policy, someone who rents a room for $300 per month, and previously received $336 in GA, would now lose the entire housing portion of their grant solely because the $40 medical care deduction reduced their grant to $296, $4 (four dollars) less than the monthly GA grant.

While all of these cuts are irrational, and harmful to the recipients and our community, the most troublesome cut is the imposition of a three month time limit for “employable” recipients that is set to take effect on April 1, 2010."

The Alameda County Board of Supervisors will meet on Tuesday, February 23, 2010, at 10:30 a.m., at 1221 Oak St. on the 5th floor to reconsider the policy. If you are unable to attend, activists encourage you to contact your County Supervisor.

District 1: (Email) Scott Haggerty (510) 272-6691
District 2: (Email) Gail Steele (510) 272-6692
District 3: (Email) Alice Lai-Bitker (510) 272-6693
District 4: (Email) Nate Miley (510) 272-6694
District 5: (Email) Keith Carson (510) 272-6695

You can also join the No Cuts to GA Coalition on Facebook.

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