Protest Against Cuts to G.A.

April 28, 2008

Legal Observers needed for Monday April 28 at 9:30-10:30AM at 1221 Oak Street, in Oakland at the Alameda County Board of Supervisors. The action will take place outside the building.

Over 35 CBO's and hundreds of people will be present for a press conference and public hearing regarding the cuts to General Assistance (welfare) in Alameda County. These cuts will affect thousands of Alameda County recipients.

Oakland, California, April 28, 2008 – The Alameda County Board of Supervisors Social Services Committee will hold a public hearing on the county Social Services Agency's proposed six-month time limit to General Assistance ("GA"). Community-based organizations and community members plan oppose the proposal with a rally and march scheduled for 9:30AM, before attending the 10:30AM hearing in the Board of Supervisors chambers at 1221 Oak Street.

"Leaving people with nothing to live on for half the year is wrong," said Patricia Wall, Executive Director of the Alameda County Homeless Action Center. "You have to be at the end of your last rope to even qualify for GA. But, Alameda County has decided that they'll limit GA to six months. If you don't get a job by then, you're off the rolls for six months—with nothing."

GA is the social safety-net of last resort for people who don't qualify for any other public benefit. It provides a loan that people use to buy food and pay rent. (The maximum that a single person can receive on GA is $336 in one month.)

"Last quarter's report shows that nearly 6,000 jobs have left the East Bay. The jobs that remain are as scarce as they have ever been," said Wall. "With the economy continuing to worsen, now is not the time to dismantle the safety net that keeps people from starving."

In 1997, Alameda County implemented a time-limit on GA. The county also commissioned UC Berkeley to study the effects of the time limit. The study showed that the time-limit increased homelessness, hunger and crime. It also showed that the health of GA recipients deteriorated. The Board of Supervisors rescinded the time-limit after just one year.

"Total deprivation is morally unacceptable," said attorney Edward Barnes of the East Bay Community Law Center. "This proposed cut will increase crime, disease, hunger, and homelessness."

ABOUT – Since 1990, the Homeless Action Center ("HAC") has been advocating for poor and disabled people in Alameda County. HAC attorneys and legal advocates help people prove their disability before the Social Security Administration and apply for and retain other public benefits. Founded in 1988 by law students at UC Berkeley's Boalt Hall School of Law, the
East Bay Community Law Center ("EBCLC") has become a nationally-recognized poverty law clinic and is the largest provider of free legal services in the East Bay. EBCLC's work makes the lives of East Bay community members more healthy, secure, productive, and hopeful.