Voice of San Diego Reports on Dismal Nature of Safety Nets in San Diego County

by on February 1, 2010 · 11 comments

in Civil Rights, Culture, Economy, Health, San Diego


San Diego Clerk's Office, 1900.

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.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

lane tobias February 1, 2010 at 1:33 pm

Speaking of which, I will be on the 4:00 news on 7/39 today, being interviewed on this very subject (food stamps in particular). I was told by the reporter that the story was part of a collaboration with VOS – so now I get it.

Bravo. Excellent story.


Dave Gilbert February 1, 2010 at 2:07 pm

Awesome Lane, I’ll make sure to check it out!


annagrace February 1, 2010 at 2:09 pm

Lane- I appreciate your articles and comments on the issue of Food Stamps. Important work.

We should all follow up with a emails to the County Supervisors.


Patty Jones February 1, 2010 at 8:15 pm

We finally got to see you on the 7:00 rerun, good job!

I was disappointed in the the channel 4 story as it seemed just way too upbeat. 1 out 2 denied and they’re getting better? holy shit… The VOS story was more on target and I hope it gets the point out to more folks who need to know how bad the system is before they need to access it.

“I get out in my communities quite a bit. I have not heard from any of my communities that we need to hand out more food stamps or I need to pass out more welfare checks,” Jacob said.

Then she’s not listening. Or she’s deaf.


lane tobias February 1, 2010 at 4:04 pm

After reading some links on the VOSD website and reading the various Supervisor’s comments on fraud prevention in the wake of the appeals court upholding welfare home inspections, I am shocked the attitude and intention of the County’s “Project 100%” and the underriding theme of “freeloading”.

I wonder how well they would respond to a taxpayer inspection of their homes, to make sure that MY money “is spent and the fraud, waste and abuse is eliminated from the system”? Since I’m technically paying their salary, their health care, etc., how do I know they aren’t defrauding the system without taking a look at their homes?


annagrace February 1, 2010 at 4:30 pm

Lane- I am with you. I could not believe the “absolutely unapologetic” attitude of the supervisors interviewed toward the POTENTIAL abuse of social welfare programs. They should be thrown out on their bums for that statement alone.

I was blown away when I read that fraud unit workers make home visits. Now that’s a great niche employment…. I worked in Florida, in social services, over 30 years ago, and was appalled that single mom’s would get a visitation from the State- checking under their beds for a pair of men’s shoes, checking the cupboards for what- chocolate chip cookies????? I thought that stuff had gone the way of the dodo bird…. Fast forward to San Diego County in the second millennium. …

The culture of cruelty lives under the rubric of fiscal responsibility.Mean people suck. Mean institutions suck even more. Vote ’em out!


doug porter February 1, 2010 at 5:48 pm

saw ya on the teevee, dude.


Dave Gilbert February 1, 2010 at 6:03 pm

Me too, I think Lane’s got a bright future in television.


annagrace February 1, 2010 at 7:02 pm
lane tobias February 2, 2010 at 10:10 am

thanks for the well wishes. I thought the story was fairly balanced – the problem isnt all at the ground level, as we can see by the attitudes of the people at the top. we already knew that eligibility workers are slammed, and that people wait forever to get their benefits. really, the weight falls on the supervisors and their lack of compassion. If they cared more, they would have found a way to hold on to more eligibility workers at the expense of something else, instead of just laying off hundreds of workers and putting more pressure on the people who got to keep their jobs.

Every other county in the state has accepted the state budget cuts and decided to make it work. San Diego on the other hand, files a costly lawsuit. couldnt we hire a dozen eligibility workers with the money being wasted on a lawsuit? is that fiscal responsibility?


annagrace February 10, 2010 at 7:04 pm

Read this NYTimes article and weep (then pick up the phone and do something.) In this article, food stamp support is described as Federal dollars, highly desirable federal dollars, not local dollars. Is San Diego receiving the same federal support for food stamp assistance as New York? In NY, there is a massive outreach effort through groceries and businesses to make sure that eligible, needy people apply.

So what’s with San Diego again??? New York is all over this support to help it’s citizens and it is a real stimulus to the economy.


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