Editor: The Voice of San Diego, an online news publication, has begun a series on the dismal nature of San Diego County’s safety net. It is too excellent to pass up. Here is an excerpt and links to the original article by Kelly Bennett and Dagny Salas:
San Diego County’s safety net is riddled with gaps ….
A voiceofsandiego.org investigation has found that the county government’s historical resistance to provide social welfare programs has left a wide chasm between last-resort aid and those on the bottom rungs of economic survival.
Those gaps have left the sick … to get sicker. They have locked applicants in months of bureaucratic and legal runaround. They have kept help out of the hands of professionals who’ve fallen on hard times during the recession. It has sometimes taken a judge’s order to force the county to provide even a minimum level of help.
The state obligates counties to run aid programs including food stamps, welfare for families and medical help, and to provide care for adults who can’t support themselves. But it has made profound cuts to the funding the counties get, leaving them to find a way to keep the programs running.
While other counties have embraced the charge to provide the services, San Diego County supervisors have rebelled against picking up the slack.
The elected officials have battled the state over the fine print of what they’re obligated to provide. They’ve created such restrictive policies that courts have had to intervene. They’ve instituted some of the most far-reaching anti-fraud policies in the state.
And they make few apologies for it.
“It is a tough task, because it’s a balancing act,” said Supervisor Dianne Jacob. “But if I take police officers off the street to hand out welfare checks to those who don’t deserve it because I’ve eliminated a fraud program, am I doing my job? I’d say no.”
Poverty reached a 50-year high last year in San Diego, and the people who use these programs don’t have a single profile. Their ranks include the weathered faces of the homeless and harried single parents with many mouths to feed. They are low-income students trying to break generational cycles of poverty. They are former mortgage brokers and hotel workers. They live in households where two incomes have been lost, their livelihoods dashed by the economic recession.
For the intro and remainder of this article, go here.