In 2016, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved the Homeless Initiative’s comprehensive strategies aimed at connecting people experiencing homelessness to critical housing and employment resources. Many of the Initiative’s recommendations focused on General Relief, a County-funded program that provides financial assistance to indigent adults who are ineligible for Federal or State programs. As currently written, however, the County Code prevents some low-income individuals from receiving General Relief. To close this loophole, today the Board of Supervisors approved a motion, authored by Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis and Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, that will initiate a thorough review of the County’s General Relief eligibility requirements to ensure that every vulnerable resident receives help.

“Right now, strict eligibility rules for General Relief preclude many residents from participating in the program. LA County is the safety net of last resort for many residents who are struggling to make ends meet. We will review whether we are inadvertently preventing County residents who are experiencing homelessness from receiving the help they deserve,” said Supervisor Solis. “LA County will scale up its response to support our most vulnerable residents.”

“The County is responsible for operating myriad programs to help the most economically disadvantaged individuals and households achieve self-sufficiency,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. “Increasing decades-old asset limitations that have not kept pace with the region’s skyrocketing cost of living will help more of our truly indigent populations qualify for the County’s poverty reduction programs.”

Today’s motion will launch a comprehensive review of current General Relief eligibility requirements to ensure that the program assists the people it was intended to help support. Currently, the County Code includes several eligibility restrictions for General Relief participants, including limits on the value of personal property and other assets. Some of these restrictions carry dollar amounts that prevent indigent individuals from participating in the County’s General Relief program.

This Board motion also directs the Department of Public Social Services and County Counsel to report back within 30 days and provide a list of recommendations to update asset limits that may prevent some from receiving General Relief. The motion also calls for recommendations in adjusting the County’s current code so that more indigent individuals may participate in poverty reduction programs.

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