Low Income Residents Compel Monterey County to Follow State Law

Monterey, CA – The Monterey County Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution approving new aid payment standards for their General Assistance (GA) Program. The new aid payment standards are the result of a lawsuit filed in Superior Court on behalf of a low-income resident represented by California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc. (CRLA) and PILP. The County also adopted a new appeal process that ensures that applicants and recipients can appeal a negative County decision.

General Assistance (GA) is a program of last resort mandated by state law and administered by counties. It requires counties to provide approximately $340 dollars per month to severely impoverished, lawful residents with no other options. GA recipients are often homeless, unemployed, or unemployable. Many recipients have disabilities, are veterans, and a significant number are survivors of domestic violence. GA allows these individuals to find modest shelter, like a shared room, and to acquire other essentials such as hygiene products and transportation.

Monterey County’s GA program failed to issue adequate grants, making it even harder for many vulnerable recipients to overcome homelessness. In particular, the County’s maximum GA grant was almost $40 dollars lower than the amount required by the state. Recipients were also being denied the housing portion of their grant, leaving them to subsist on around $133 a month or around $4.43 per day. Recipients also reported being denied a big portion of aid, through no fault of their own, for reasons such as a landlord not returning housing cost verifications. Lastly, recipients were deprived of due process rights when they were given notices with little explanation as to why they were being denied aid and what they could do about it.

“This settlement provides opportunity for indigent and homeless people to live more decently and could possibly change their life. The increase can mean new clothes, a night or two of housing, and perhaps a chance to move from the streets to a shared living situation. For others, the increase means they will have money for transportation to seek housing or work. We’re hopeful this money will make positive difference in many peoples’ lives.” stated Phyllis Katz, Directing Attorney, CRLA Salinas.

“We appreciate the openness of County employees and their willingness to enact the necessary changes. The County’s resolution addresses our concerns, and brings the County’s GA program within the State’s legal requirements,” said Lauren Hansen, PILP.

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