FEDERAL COURT RULES ALAMEDA COUNTY MUST ADHERE TO STRICT FOOD STAMP TIMELINES

The Preliminary Injunction Authorizes Federal Judge to Oversee County Compliance

SAN FRANCISCO–On January 15, 2016 U.S. District Court Judge James Donato granted a preliminary injunction motion on behalf of food stamp recipients in Alameda County. The injunction will require Alameda County to adhere to strict timelines established under federal and state law for processing CalFresh applications and awarding benefits to residents entitled to receive food stamps.

If the County fails to meet the processing timelines, Alameda County will be required to implement corrective measures to ensure compliance.

“This is a complete victory for our clients” — Pillsbury partner Tom Loran

The injunction stemmed from a class action filed on September 29, 2015 alleging that Alameda County has been chronically out of compliance with those legally mandated deadlines and has persistently ranked last out of 58 California counties in timely processing these applications. Filed in U.S. District Court, the class action also alleged that the County refused to take the steps needed to remedy those chronic delays.  For more information about this lawsuit and to read the original complaint click here.

“This is a complete victory for our clients” said Tom Loran, a partner at Pillsbury who along with PILP and Western Center on Law & Poverty represent the Plaintiffs in this federal class action lawsuit.

Stephanie Haffner of Western Center on Law & Poverty added, “When people reach the point of applying for food assistance, it is all too often a crisis. The injunction means now the county will act to prevent needless hunger.”

PILP Staff Attorney Lauren Hansen said, “During the last 12 months, an average of 725 needy households per month did not receive a timely determination of their applications for food stamps benefits. People struggled while they waited— some ate expired food, others went hungry. This order will go a long way toward preventing such suffering.”

Under the order, the Alameda County Social Services Agency must file monthly compliance reports with the judge and plaintiffs’ attorneys showing that it is processing applications on time. Federal law requires that food stamp applications be processed within 30 days. Expedited benefits must be paid in three days to eligible applicants.

Read more about the Preliminary Injunction here, here, and here.

Western Center on Law & Poverty represents low-income Californians through litigation, legislative advocacy and administrative advocacy in core poverty issues of housing, healthcare, basic income support and access to justice.

From housing to voting rights, and nearly every issue in between, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP handles high-impact pro bono matters and provides basic legal services to the poor.

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