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Author: Heather Masterton

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California Governor Criticized for Proposal to Eliminate Health Benefit for Some Disabled Immigrants

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California Gov. Gavin Newsom vowed he would not fix the state’s budget deficit by taking away health insurance from low-income adults living in the country without legal permission, calling the state’s policy “something I believe in.”

But Newsom would eliminate an important health benefit for some low-income immigrants with disabilities, angering his allies who are now accusing the second-term governor of breaking his word.

California was one of the first states to give free health insurance to all low-income adults regardless of their immigration status. The multibillion-dollar project, completed in January, made more than 1 million people eligible for California’s Medicaid program, including many people who had never before had health insurance.

Now, just five months later and with California facing an estimated $45 billion deficit, Newsom wants the state to stop paying for caregivers to come to the homes of some disabled people — who are living in the country without legal permission — to help them with cooking, cleaning and other tasks so they can stay out of nursing homes. Everyone else would keep that benefit.

The Newsom administration says this would save about $94 million and impact fewer than 3,000 people out of the more than 15 million who are enrolled in the state’s Medicaid program, known as Medi-Cal. But eliminating the benefit would also keep thousands more from becoming eligible in the future.

Neswom’s proposal “is a betrayal,” said David Kane, an attorney with the Western Center on Law and Poverty. Ronald Coleman Baeza, managing policy director for California Pan-Ethnic Health Network, called it “indefensible” and compared the proposal to a notorious ballot proposition from the 1990s that sought to bar immigrants from accessing government assistance programs.

“I think it could move us back in the sense of treating undocumented as different,” said state Sen. Maria Elena Durazo, a Democrat from Los Angeles who has pushed for the Medicaid expansion for years.

Newsom’s proposal for immigrants would impact a benefit known as in-home supportive services that’s becoming more expensive for the state to provide. The average hourly wage for caregivers has gone up 6% since 2014. And starting this year, with some emergency federal funding provided during the pandemic expired, there have been cost increases of about $200 million.

Once people qualify for the program, they get to hire their own caregiver. It’s often a relative, meaning the program often acts as financial assistance for families.

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California could boot thousands of immigrants from program that aids elderly and disabled

In Bell Gardens, Raquel Martinez said she has relied for nearly three years on a program that pays an assistant to help her make it safely to her frequent appointments at the MLK Medical Campus.

Martinez, 65, is blind and has cancer. If she did not have the help of her support worker, Martinez said, she would struggle to navigate the elevators and find the right office. Her assistant also helps her with groceries and other daily tasks such as housekeeping, she said, tending to her 21 hours a week.

“I was in need of a lot of help,” Martinez said in Spanish.

As budget cuts squeeze the state, California could yank such assistance from elderly, blind or otherwise disabled immigrants who have relied on the state’s In-Home Supportive Services program.

IHSS pays assistants who help people with daily tasks such as bathing, laundry or cooking; provide needed care such as injections under the direction of a medical professional; and accompany them to and from doctor’s appointments. It aims to help people remain safely in their own homes, rather than having to move into nursing facilities or suffer without needed care.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has proposed cutting immigrants in the country illegally from the IHSS program, estimating it would save California nearly $95 million as the state stares down a $44.9-billion budget deficit.

The proposed cut has outraged groups that advocate for immigrants and disabled people, which argued it would be a shortsighted move that would jeopardize Californians who need day-to-day support, put them at increased risk of deportation and ultimately drive up costs for the state.

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133 Aging and Disability Stakeholders’ Response to May Revision of Proposed 2024- 25 State Budget

133 Aging and Disability Stakeholders’ Response to May Revision of Proposed 2024- 25 State Budget

Dear Governor Newsom, Speaker Rivas, Pro Tem McGuire, Assemblymember Gabriel and Senator Wiener:

The undersigned 133 organizations representing aging and disability stakeholders in California, write to you with our comments on Governor Newsom’s May Revision to the proposed 2024-25 state budget. The May Revision includes a number of cuts to IHSS, workforce initiatives, housing and homelessness programs, CalFresh/CFAP, APS, and CDA programs including the Older Californians Act.

Health Care

We are deeply alarmed that the Governor’s May Revision includes the elimination of the In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) benefit for undocumented Californians in MediCal. The IHSS program provides essential support services to ensure that individuals can remain living in the community and avoid costly institutionalization. By eliminating IHSS, the state will be turning its back on its commitment to providing health care for all Californians regardless of immigration status. Given that the proposed cut targets immigrant and disability communities, we also have serious concerns that it violates the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Supreme Court’s decision in Olmstead, the Equal Protection Clause of the California Constitution, and California’s Government Code section 11135 and recently amended regulations.

IHSS is a key health care program, and by revoking access to the program, low-income undocumented Californians will have to forgo care at home or seek long-term services and supports through institutional care, which would ultimately be exponentially more expensive for the state. This elimination also puts a significant economic burden on family caregivers, who may now have to leave the workforce to provide that care uncompensated. Family caregivers are often low-income women of color, and if they must leave the paid workforce to provide care to their aging and disabled family members, this proposal will exacerbate economic disparities.

Eliminating access to IHSS will also undermine the trust that California has worked to build with immigrant communities and will raise doubts about its commitment to health access for all Californians. Since the first expansion of Medi-Cal to children in 2016, the Department of Health Care Services, in conjunction with enrollment navigators and consumer advocacy organizations, have put in considerable work to assuage fears of enrolling in Medi-Cal. Eliminating IHSS now for this specific population will lead to confusion and fear that other Medi-Cal services or coverage entirely will be stripped away. Additionally, Medi-Cal paid placement at LTC facilities is one of the public benefits considered in the public charge assessment – making this IHSS benefit cut particularly cruel for undocumented Californians.

We are also disappointed that the Governor proposes to eliminate the IHSS Permanent Backup Provider program. The shortage of available caregivers has had a significant adverse impact on the quality of life of people with disabilities and older adults. IHSS recipients who have gaps in their care face a risk of costly hospitalization and institutional placement. Eliminating the Backup Provider system exacerbates an already critically under-resourced program. California must ensure that IHSS recipients do not go without the care they need to remain safely in their homes when their regular caregivers are sick or experience an emergency. We urge the Legislature to reject this proposal, and prioritize programs like the Backup Provider program that further health equity and support community living for all Californians.

We appreciate and acknowledge that the May Revision maintains other investments in health care eligibility and benefits, like the elimination of the asset test in Medi-Cal and the 2025 implementation of Part A Buy-In. We also appreciate that important home and community-based services programs like the Community-Based Adult Services and the Multipurpose Senior Services Program were not cut, as they were in previous cycles of fiscal downturn. However, we are disappointed in the May Revision proposal to cut funding for the Community Health Navigators who play an important role in enrolling older adults and people with disabilities in Medi-Cal.

We are disappointed that the May Revision delays the implementation of the MediCal Share of Cost reform. We recognize the difficult budget environment this year; however, the current inequitable Medi-Cal Share of Cost program forces older adults and people with disabilities to live on $600 a month in order to receive health benefits. The Legislature and Governor should remain committed to implementing this reform as quickly as possible.

Older Californians Act Modernization

We are opposed to the proposal in the May Revision to substantially reduce the funds to modernize the Older Californians Act. The May Revision proposes to eliminate $111 million of this vital funding for senior nutrition programs. Senior nutrition programs are a core service of many Area Agencies on Aging. There is incredible need in the community for meals, and cutting this funding would be shortsighted, harmful, and counter to the goals of California’s Master Plan for Aging. We urge the Legislature to reject this proposal.

Food Security

We are disappointed in the two-year delay in implementing the expansion of the California Food Assistance Program for undocumented older adults. Food insecurity is a fundamental element of the social determinants of health. All Californians deserve access to food, and low-income undocumented Californians have been unjustly excluded for too long. Further delaying the expansion only exacerbates these harms. We urge the Legislature to reject this proposal.

We are also disappointed in the proposal to eliminate the CalFresh Minimum Benefit Pilot, which would provide additional CalFresh food benefits for households that are only receiving the federal minimum allotment of $23 per month, bringing them up to $50 per month. We urge the legislature to reject this cut. Hunger needs in California remain high, and cutting this pilot program only harms older adults and individuals with disabilities already struggling to afford food.

Housing and Homelessness

California has experienced an alarming spike in older adult housing precarity and homelessness; almost half of unhoused adults are now age 50 and older, a number that continues to grow. There could not be a worse time to cut funding to programs that specifically target the housing needs of older adults and people with disabilities. The May Revision proposes cuts to Home Safe and the Housing and Disability Advocacy Program, two of the only programs focused on preventing older adult homelessness. When paired with the severe reductions in HHAP, Behavioral Health Continuum Infrastructure Program (BHCIP) and Behavioral Health Bridge Program (BHBH), localities will have few resources to help older and disabled adults get and stay housed. We urge the Legislature to reject this proposal. We appreciate the $500 million of state tax credit funds available to create more LIHTC housing.

Elder Justice

We’re also deeply concerned about the proposed cuts to Adult Protective Services, which provides important services to vulnerable older adults. The May Revision proposes to cut the expansion of the Adult Protective Services program, reduces the additional training funds for APS workers and puts the innovative Home Safe program in jeopardy. The Home Safe program has been critical in reaching older adults experiencing homelessness throughout the state. Further, without these additional training funds, the APS workforce will be unprepared to support the complex needs faced by older adults and persons with disabilities experiencing abuse and neglect. The APS program is a critical safety net program for older adults and is recognized by the State’s Master Plan on Aging as a continuum of care to promote healthy aging and equitable access to community-based services. We urge the Legislature to reject this proposal.

Workforce

We are disappointed to see that the May Revise proposes to eliminate $820 million in health care workforce development funding through Fiscal Year 2027-28. These cuts would be felt across multiple health care professions, such as community health workers, nurses, social workers and more. As our aging population grows and access to trained caregivers declines, there has never been a more critical time to bolster investments in our health care workforce.

Behavioral Health

We are disappointed in the May Revision proposal to significantly reduce the California Department of Aging’s Older Adult Behavioral Health funding. There are significant needs for behavioral health services amongst older Californians – research indicates that fewer than half of older adults with mental and/or substance use disorders receive necessary treatment. In addition, we know that older adult isolation and loneliness results in real harm and requires proactive interventions, including behavioral health support. We urge the legislature to consider ways to continue investing in the behavioral health infrastructure to support older adults.

Economic Security

We sincerely appreciate that the May Revision does not include any cuts to the SSI/SSP grants, which provide critical income support to the lowest-income Californians. In the last recession, severe cuts were made to SSI/SSP, resulting in one million older adults and people with disabilities being pushed into poverty. We are still grappling with the impacts of that recession, and it is important that the SSI/SSP grants are not cut in this current budget environment.

California’s Commitment to the Master Plan for Aging (MPA)

Over the last several years, California has been committed and engaged in the MPA development and implementation. The MPA’s goal is to remedy longstanding inequities in the systems of care for older adults and people with disabilities. We must ensure that the final budget agreement remains aligned with the goals of the MPA, and therefore we urge the Legislature to reject the harmful cuts proposed in the Governor’s May Revision.

We look forward to continuing to engage with the Legislature and Administration during this difficult budget cycle to ensure that older adults and people with disabilities are not harmed.

Sincerely,

A.B.L.E Community Development
Foundation
Abrazar, Inc.
Aging Services Collaborative of Santa Clara County
Alameda Alliance for Health
Alameda County Older Adults, Healthy Results
Alzheimer’s Association
Alzheimer’s Los Angeles
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees
Archstone Foundation
Ashby Village
Asian Pacific Caregiver Network
Bet Tzedek Legal Services
Brilliant Corners
Buen Vecino
CA Foundation for Independent Living Centers
California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform
California Alliance for Retired Americans
California Assocation for Adult Day Services
California Association of Area Agencies on Aging
California Association of Food Banks
California Association of Public Authorities for IHSS
California Collaborative for Long-Term
Services and Supports (CCLTSS)
California Domestic Workers Coalition
California Elder Justice Coalition
California Health Advocates
California Immigrant Policy Center
California Pan-Ethnic Health Network
California Senior Legislature
California State Association of Public
Administrators, Public Guardians and Public Conservators
California Women’s Law Center
Californians for Disability Rights
CalPACE
Cardea Health
Caring Across Generations
Central Valley Immigrant Integration
Collaborative
Centro Laboral de Graton
Chinatown Service Center
Choice in Aging
City of Oakland
Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights, CHIRLA
Communities Actively Living Independent & Free
Community Living Campaign
Community Resources for Independent Living
Community Tech Network
County Welfare Directors Association of California
Courage California
Crisis Support Services of Alameda County
DayBreak Adult Care
Disability Community Resource Center
Disability Justice League Bay Area
Disability Rights California
Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF)
Disability Voices United
Eden Area Village
Elder Law & Advocacy
Empowered Aging
Fat Legal Advocacy, Rights, and Education project of Solovay Law
Filipino Advocates for Justice
Food for People
FREED Center for Independent Living
Friends Committee on Legislation of California
Hand in Hand: The Domestic Employers Network
Hmong Cultural Center of Butte County
Home Match | Front Porch
Homebridge
Immigrant Defense Advocates
Independent Living Resource Center San Francisco
Indivisible CA: StateStrong
Inland Counties Legal Services
Inland Empire Immigrant Youth Collective
J Gould Consulting
Jewish Family Service LA
Jewish Family Services of Silicon Valley
Justice in Aging
Latino Coalition for a Healthy California
Leading Age California
Legal Assistance for Seniors
Legal Assistance to the Elderly
Let’s Kick ASS Palm Springs (AIDS Survivor Syndrome)
Lifelong Medical Care
LifeSTEPS
Little Tokyo Service Center
Long Beach Gray Panthers
Maternal and Child Health Access
Mercy Brown Bag Program
Mixteco/Indigena Community Organizing Project (MICOP)
Mujeres Unidas y Activas
Multi-faith ACTION Coalition
National Health Law Program
Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County
Northeast Valley Health Corporation
On Lok
Openhouse
Pacific Asian Counseling Services
Pangea Legal Services
Partners in Care Foundation
Personal Assistance Services Council (PASC)
Pilipino Workers Center
Placer Independent Resource Services
PNHP California – South Bay Chapter
Resources for Independence Central Valley (RICV)
San Francisco AIDS Foundation
San Francisco Gray Panthers
San Francisco Human Services Agency
San Francisco IHSS Public Authority
San Francisco-Marin Food Bank
SEIU CA
Senior Advocacy Network
Senior and Disability Action
Senior Coastsiders
Senior Services Coalition of Alameda County
Seniors Council of Santa Cruz & San Benito Counties
Service Center for Independent Life
Service Opportunity for Seniors / SOS Meals on Wheels
SF IHSS Task Force
Silicon Valley Independent Living Center
Sistahs Aging with Grace & Elegance
Sourcewise
St. Mary’s Center
The Arc of California/ El Arc de California
The California IHSS Consumer Alliance (CICA)
The Center for Independent Living
The Central Valley Urban Institute
The East Oakland Collective
The Unity Council
United American Indian Involvement
United Domestic Workers/AFSCME 3930
United Seniors of Oakland and Alameda County
United Way of Greater Los Angeles
Urban & Environmental Policy Institute, Occidental College
Venice Family Clinic
Vietnamese American Community Center of the East Bay
Western Center on Law and Poverty

Truth and Justice in Child Support Coalition Celebrates Full Passthrough of Child Support to Former CalWORKs Families

Beginning this month, California will pass through 100% of child support payments to families who formerly received CalWORKs benefits, putting $160 million back in the pockets of low-income families.

(Sacramento, CA – May 14, 2024)

This month, California stopped intercepting child support payments intended for families who formerly received CalWORKs benefits. As a result, an estimated $160 million per year will go to families and children, instead of being kept by the government to reimburse itself for providing public benefits to custodial parents in the past. With this policy change, California becomes a national leader, joining a small handful of states that have taken similar actions to end the practice of seizing child support payments from low-income children and families. The state’s action is in response to years of advocacy from the Truth and Justice in Child Support Coalition and others.

The Truth and Justice in Child Support Coalition applauds this policy win, but there is still much more work to do. The state continues to intercept approximately $150 million each year from low-income families that currently receive CalWORKs rather than sending the money directly to parents and children who need it. Additionally, struggling families are saddled with $6.4 billion in debt to the government for past-due child support while their families are receiving public benefits and accruing a 10% interest rate, which is one of the highest rates in the country.

We ask the Legislature and Governor to keep up the momentum and continue to position California’s child support program as a truly family-centered, poverty-alleviation program. Specifically, we ask that they:

1. Plan for the 100% passthrough of child support to families currently receiving CalWORKs;

2. Provide debt relief for old and uncollectible child support debt owed by low-income parents to the State for past due child support while their families were receiving public benefits; and

3. Eliminate the egregious 10% interest rate on government-owed child support debt.

These child support issues are racial and economic justice issues; passing these policy priorities can help get families out of debt and towards economic security with relatively little cost to the state in a difficult budget year.

Moreover, the California Reparations Task Force recommends the elimination of interest on past-due child support and recommends eliminating child support debt to address the harms created by the government’s pathologizing of Black families. We urge the legislature and the Governor to make amends by supporting families that need it most.

The Truth and Justice in Child Support Coalition is a statewide coalition of organizations that seeks to change state policy on child support pass-through, payments, and collections to better support low income children and their families and reduce child poverty in California. Contact us at [email protected] for additional information.

Millions of Californians in Jeopardy of Losing Medi-Cal Coverage

Millions of Californians in Jeopardy of Losing Medi-Cal Coverage 

The Protecting Medi-Cal Coverage for Californians Act (AB 2956), aimed at helping millions of low-income Californians keep their Medi-Cal coverage, held back from progressing through the Legislature 

(Sacramento, CA) May 20, 2024 – The Protecting Medi-Cal Coverage for Californians Act (AB 2956) introduced by Assemblymember Tasha Boerner (D-Encinitas) has died in Assembly Appropriations. The bill, aimed at protecting the most vulnerable by allowing adults enrolled in Medi-Cal to keep their coverage for a full 12 months and by making the federal Medi-Cal renewal flexibilities permanent, was intended to decrease the number of wrongful Medi-Cal disenrollments Californians are currently experiencing.

As of April 2023, California restarted the process of reviewing and renewing Medi-Cal eligibility for the first time since Medi-Cal renewals were paused in March 2020, referred to as Medi-Cal “unwinding.” Over 1.6 million Californians have lost their Medi-Cal coverage in the first 10 months of this unwinding period – the overwhelming majority being people of color, with about half of all disenrolled people being Latines. The overwhelming majority (80%) of Medi-Cal disenrollments have been for procedural or ‘paperwork’ reasons, meaning they have been disenrolled by no fault of their own, even when they were likely still eligible.

Most notably, California had adopted several federal flexibilities to streamline the renewal process and reduce the number of wrongful disenrollments. In other words, without these flexibilities, far more eligible Medi-Cal enrollees would have lost their coverage. AB 2956 would continue those flexibilities that otherwise would expire. The federal agency has extended those flexibilities through June 2025. But without AB 2956, it is unclear that California will extend these flexibilities beyond December 2024.

Advocates have been sounding the alarm that the unwinding process would come down on the backs of poor Californians, particularly communities of color. Although the state is approaching the end of this process, redeterminations are an annual procedure for the Medi-Cal program – meaning that unless protections are put in place, these wrongful disenrollments will continue and be far worse without continuing existing flexibilities. AB 2956 was one last effort to put protections in place. However, today the Legislature held this bill on suspense in the Assembly Appropriations Committee. Coupled with the proposed cuts in the state budget to enrollment navigators, California leaves millions more at risk of wrongfully losing coverage, potentially increasing poverty and negative health outcomes in the state.

“I am disappointed that AB 2956, a bill that would have helped many Californians retain health coverage, did not get the necessary approval to move forward. I remain committed to ensuring that those eligible for Medi-Cal are not routinely disenrolled due to bureaucratic red tape. It is unconscionable to think that over a million people each year are not able to get the care that they need due to something as simple as missing a single piece of paper,” stated Assemblymember Tasha Boerner. 

The bill is co-sponsored by the Western Center for Law and Poverty (WCLP)The Children’s Partnership (TCP), and The Latino Coalition for a Healthy California (LCHC),

“Since Medi-Cal redeterminations began nearly a year ago, 1.6 million low-income Californians, including well over 300,000 children, have lost Medi-Cal coverage, all through no fault of their own. The vast majority of disenrollments are the result of procedural reasons, not eligibility – placing children at risk of losing coverage due to barriers like submitted renewal forms not being received and long call wait times to get questions answered. Even relatively short gaps in Medi-Cal coverage can mean the difference between getting the timely early developmental intervention that growing children and their families need to lead healthy lives and falling dangerously behind in healthy childhood development. Putting families’ coverage in jeopardy, especially our BIPOC communities that are more likely to rely on Medi-Cal for coverage, exacerbates existing racial disparities and undermines Californians’ investments in coverage for all.” – Mayra E. Alvarez, President, The Children’s Partnership

“This important legislation was an intentional fight for justice. The health of Latines is in a fragile state: our community is still facing acute cases of COVID-19, long-COVID and the socio-economic repercussions of the pandemic. This means that now more than ever, Medi-Cal coverage is essential to our well-being. Unfortunately, in the wake of post-pandemic public health emergency flexibilities, Medi-Cal redetermination disenrollments have disproportionately affected Latinos. In 2023, of those who were disenrolled, 49.5% were Latino – that’s 613,280 Latine community members who lost life-saving coverage. We find ourselves at a unique nexus of time. California has led the nation in expanding access to Medi-Cal for ALL, regardless of immigration status. And these disenrollments are an antithesis to the decades of hard work we, as a state, have put in. To truly reach health equity for all Californians, we have to ensure that there are intentional processes that take into account the realities that our communities are facing. The loss of AB 2956  will unfortunately have a dire impact on the health and economy of our state.” – Dr. Seciah Aquino, Executive Director, Latino Coalition for a Healthy California

“We are deeply disappointed that AB 2956 is not moving forward. The failure to permanently extend temporary, innovative fixes that eliminate burdensome administrative barriers means California is turning back the clock and resuscitating a bureaucratic process that stripped health coverage from thousands of people every month.” – Linda Nguy, Associate Director of Policy Advocacy, Western Center for Law and Poverty

“Failing to move forward with AB 2956 is a failure to better protect the most underserved Californians. The restart of the renewals process in the state has provided an incredible opportunity to improve our Medi-Cal eligibility and enrollment systems at a crucial time when millions of residents’ coverage has not been renewed for several years since the start of the Public Health Emergency. Preventing further efforts to enact stronger and improved policies amidst the current momentum on improving Medi-Cal eligibility processes is a huge missed opportunity to mitigate loss of coverage and prevent deeper inequities among underserved communities in California.” – Skyler M. Rosellini, Assistant Director of California Policy, National Health Law Program

CONTACT: 

Robert Nunez

Latino Coalition for a Healthy California

[email protected]

(805) 815-7730

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Assemblymember Tasha Boerner represents the 77th District, which encompasses Carlsbad, Encinitas, Solana Beach, Del Mar, and the coastal communities of La Jolla south to Downtown and Coronado. You can learn more about Assemblymember Boerner at a77.asmdc.org.

Latino Coalition for a Healthy California (LCHC)— is the leading statewide policy organization with a specific emphasis on Latine health. For over 30 years, LCHC has worked on transforming systems to achieve Latinx health justice. We pride ourselves in translating community solutions into equitable policy and lasting systemic change.

The Children’s Partnership is a California advocacy organization advancing child health equity through research, policy, and community engagement. For 30 years, TCP has championed policies that help create a California where all children have the resources and opportunities they need to be healthy and thrive.

Through the lens of economic and racial justice, Western Center on Law & Poverty  litigates, educates, and advocates in courts, cities, counties, the State Capital, and the public arena to secure just housing, health care, economy, and legal systems for  Californians with low incomes.

Trial Update: City of Los Angeles Faces Final Trial Postponement in Street Vendor Lawsuit

Amid Ongoing Negotiations, City Council Introduces Motion to Address Harassment by Street Vending Enforcement Agency

LOS ANGELES, CA, MAY 15, 2024 – The non-profit legal team and plaintiffs in Community Power Collective v. City of Los Angeles released the following joint statement today:

“In December 2022, vendor plaintiffs Merlín Alvarado and Ruth Monroy, along with three community empowerment organizations—Community Power Collective, East LA Community Corporation & Inclusive Action for the City—filed a lawsuit against the City of Los Angeles, challenging a number of regulations in their Sidewalk Vending Ordinance. Our lawsuit alleges that these regulations violate a 2018 state law—SB 946—that legalized sidewalk vending statewide.

“The goal of this lawsuit is to ensure that the City of Los Angeles follows state law, repeals illegal policies that it previously enacted, and makes vendors whole who have been harassed with citations pursuant to clearly illegal policies. We have already successfully forced the City to repeal its most harmful policies so that vendors will not be cited for operating their businesses in lucrative pedestrian areas. However, to ensure that the City fully addresses its obligation to make those harmed by its actions whole, we have agreed to continue negotiations and will postpone our trial date until July 16, 2024. The Judge overseeing this case stated that this is the last continuance he will grant.

“The lawsuit also includes several references to harassment by Bureau of Street Services (BSS) officers, which have not only continued but tragically increased since filing our lawsuit over 18 months ago.  We are pleased to see that the City introduced a motion last Friday to consider several measures to ensure that BSS does not continue to violate its own regulations and that it treats street vendors with respect.

However, the City has still not addressed the past harm it has caused hundreds of low-income vendors. While we have reached high-level agreement with the City of Los Angeles on changing certain sidewalk vending regulations and addressing certain citations issued to sidewalk vendors, the City has yet to agree to a comprehensive plan that will enact these changes and remedies effectively. Reaching a potential settlement agreement is an urgent issue—for one because all parties involved continue to invest time and resources in this process, but more importantly because street vendors will continue to experience state-sanctioned harm and harassment until these issues are resolved.

“If a satisfactory resolution between the parties cannot be reached by July 16, the sidewalk vendors, vendor advocates, and their counsel are fully prepared to take our case to trial and ask a judge to order the City to fully comply with state law and to make vendors whole.

“Whether through settlement or in court, we are confident that this lawsuit will result in the restoration of vendor rights in the City of Los Angeles and will serve as a signal to other jurisdictions that they cannot arbitrarily exclude vendors from their local economy.

“We appreciate your understanding and support as we proceed with these negotiations for the rights and fair treatment of our street vendor community. Due to the confidential nature of these discussions, we are unable to share further details at this time.

The plaintiffs are represented by Arnold and Porter, a private, worldwide law firm, providing pro bono co-counsel support, and the nonprofit law firms, Public Counsel and Western Center on Law & Poverty.

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For media inquiries, email Josh here.

Public Counsel: Public Counsel is a nonprofit public interest law firm dedicated to advancing civil rights and racial and economic justice, as well as to amplifying the power of our clients through comprehensive legal advocacy. Founded on and strengthened by a pro bono legal service model, our staff and volunteers

seek justice through direct legal services, promote healthy and resilient communities through education and outreach, and support community-led efforts to transform unjust systems through litigation and policy advocacy in and beyond Los Angeles.

Arnold & Porter: Arnold & Porter combines sophisticated regulatory, litigation, and transactional capabilities to resolve clients’ most complex issues. With over 1,000 lawyers practicing in 15 offices worldwide, we offer deep industry experience and an integrated approach that spans more than 40 practice areas. Through multidisciplinary collaboration and focused industry experience, we provide innovative and effective solutions to mitigate risks, address challenges, and achieve successful outcomes.

Western Center on Law & Poverty: Fights in courts, cities, counties, and in the Capitol to secure housing, health care, and a strong safety net for Californians with low incomes, through the lens of economic and racial justice. For more information, visit www.wclp.org.

Community Power Collective: Community Power Collective builds power with low-income workers and tenants through transformative organizing to win economic justice, community control of land and housing, and to propagate systems of cooperation in Boyle Heights and the greater LA region.

East LA Community Corporation: ELACC is a Boyle Heights-based community development corporation that uses an equitable development model to engage residents traditionally left out of decision-making processes. In addition to affordable housing, they provide financial capability services through their Community Wealth department, which supports sidewalk vendors with free tax preparation, financial coaching, Technical Assistance, and social loans. ELACC is co-founder of the Los Angeles Street Vendor Campaign (LASVC) and has worked with micro-entrepreneurs for over a decade.Inclusive Action for the City: Inclusive Action for the City (IAC) is a Community Development Financial Institution and nonprofit organization based in Los Angeles whose mission is to bring people together to build strong local economies that uplift low-income urban communities through advocacy and transformative economic development initiatives. IAC serves the community through policy advocacy, research, consulting services, business coaching, and a lending program, among other efforts. IAC is a co-founder of the Los Angeles Street Vendor Campaign and has worked with street vendors and other small business owners for more than 10 years.

Newsom’s proposed spending cuts spur backlash from affected California groups

Just minutes after Gov. Gavin Newsom unveiled a revised state budget with billions of dollars in spending reductions on Friday, advocates for affected programs began showering reporters with statements of dismay.

The gist of the complaints was that after Newsom and the Legislature had devoted attention and money to expanded health care coverage, prekindergarten education, income supports for the poor, undocumented immigrant assistance, homelessness, climate change and a myriad other left-of-center causes, the new budget would punish their recipients.

Building the California Dream Alliance, a consortium of nearly 60 groups, was among those disappointed with Newsom’s budget, issuing a compendium of comments from its members, including the Western Center on Law and Poverty.

“Although we appreciate the governor maintaining previous expansions and grants, his approach balances the budget on the backs of low-income Californians through over $3 billion in cuts,” Linda Nguy, an associate director of the organization, said. “Instead of considering additional revenue solutions, the governor proposes to cut in-home supportive services for people who were previously excluded from Medi-Cal due to their immigration status, deeper CalWORKs cuts, and continued cuts to housing and homelessness prevention programs.”

Analysis Of Governor Newsom’s May Revision of California’s 2024-2025 Budget

May 10, 2024

The Governor released his May Revision on May 10, estimating that the budget shortfall for the 2024-25 fiscal year grew by approximately $7 billion from the January Proposal to approximately $44.9 billion. This differs from the Legislative Analyst’s Office earlier estimate of $73 billion, with differences attributed to higher revenue projections and different Proposition 98 calculations. After accounting for the early action budget package that included $17.3 billion of solutions, the remaining budget problem is approximately $27.6 billion.

Western Center on Law and Poverty appreciates that the Governor maintains some of the previous expansions and grants proposed in the January budget. However, we oppose the Governor’s approach to address the current budget shortfall through cuts to critical safety net programs. This approach balances the budget on the backs of low-income Californians through over $3 billion in cuts. Instead of considering additional revenue solutions, the Governor proposes to cut In-Home Supportive Services for people who were previously excluded from Medi-Cal due to their immigration status, deeper CalWORKs cuts, and continued housing cuts. We look forward to working with the Governor and Legislature on a final budget that reflects our values and protects vulnerable Californians.

HEALTH CARE

Cuts In-Home Supportive Services for Undocumented Individuals — Despite historic investments in Medi-Cal expansions, the May Revision proposes treating people who were previously excluded due to their immigration status differently. Specifically, the May Revision cut IHSS services for those who were previously excluded at a reduction of $94.7 million. IHSS allows seniors and people with disabilities to safely stay in their home.

Managed Care Organization (MCO) Tax — Sweeps $6.7 billion over multiple years from the Medi-Cal provider rate increases, Medi-Cal workforce funding, and equity payments planned for January 2025 and proposes amendment to include Medicare health plan revenue resulting in an additional $9.7 billion in total MCO Tax funds over multiple years. The related November ballot initiative raises uncertainty. If the measure passes, billions of dollars could be diverted, resulting in budget deficit that may result in future cuts to safety net programs.

Cuts Acupuncture as Medi-Cal Benefit — Eliminates acupuncture as a Medi-Cal benefit starting January 2025 at reduction of $5.4 million this budget year and $13 million ongoing.

Healthcare Workforce Reduction— Eliminates about $900 million various healthcare workforce initiatives including community health workers, nursing, social work, Song-Brown residencies, Health Professions Career Opportunity Program, and California Medicine Scholars Program as well as eliminates $189.4 million Mental Health Services Fund for programs proposed to be delayed to 2025-26 at Governor’s Budget.

Children and Youth Behavioral Health Initiative Reduction— Reduces $72.3 million onetime in 2023-24, $348.6 million in 2024-25, and $5 million in 2025-26 for school-linked health partnerships and grants, behavioral health services and supports platform, public education campaign, and youth suicide reporting and crisis response pilot.

Eliminates Behavioral Health Continuum Infrastructure Program and Reduces Bridge Housing Program— Eliminates $450.7 million from the last round of the Behavioral Health Continuum Infrastructure Program and reduces funding for the Behavioral Health Bridge Housing Program.

Eliminates Public Health Funding—Eliminates $52.5 million in 2023-24 and $300 million ongoing for state and local public health.

2022 Health Trigger Investments not Included: • Share of Cost Reform so that seniors and people with disabilities can afford to access needed Medi-Cal services • Continuous Medi-Cal Coverage for Children Aged 0 through 4.

HOUSING

One of the highest priorities for California lawmakers and residents is the housing and homelessness crisis, which requires more investment in affordable housing and homelessness prevention programs. We are concerned about the proposed cuts to these crucial programs, especially as Californians are grappling with housing insecurity and the continued legal attacks on our unhoused neighbors.

The May Revision proposes a total $1.76 billion in continued cuts to the following program (with additional cuts to January Proposal noted):

• Adaptive Reuse Program – additional $127.5 million cut

• Foreclosure Intervention Housing Preservation Program – additional $236.5 million cut

• Multifamily Housing Program – additional $75 million cut

• Infill Infrastructure Grant Program – additional $35 million cut

• Homeless Housing Assistance Program (HHAP) – additional $260 million cut

• Veteran Housing and Homeless Prevention Program – additional $26.3 million cut

The May Revision will include funding of $500 million to the state LIHTC (Low Income Housing Tax Credits) program.

PUBLIC BENEFITS AND ACCESS TO JUSTICE CalWORKs

While the May Revision does not propose to cut CalWORKs grants, the proposal continues the deep cuts proposed in January, including:

• The elimination of the Family Stabilization Program (FSP), which provides housing assistance, mental health, substance use and domestic violence services. This is a core program within CalWORKs that keeps people housed, safe, and well.

• The elimination of the Subsidized Employment Program, which provides additional job opportunities to participants to provide job experience and a path to unsubsidized employment.

• The draining of the safety net reserve, which was created to protect human services programs against cuts. The use of these funds results in a double cut to the CalWORKs program.

Additional cuts to CalWORKs include:

• The reduction of $47.1 million for the CalWORKs home visiting program ongoing, which is a cut of 45%. This highly effective program, which pairs professionals with new parents, prepares families for new infant household members and provides early supports to ensure a successful transition to new and increased parenting responsibilities. This cut could result in new referrals to child welfare services.

• The permanent elimination of the CalWORKs Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services program which is a cut of $126.6 million. These are critical services that stabilize a family and can also prevent referrals to child welfare services.

SSI/SSP

The Governor’s proposed budget did not propose a cut to SSI/SSP grants, but additional investments are still needed for this program which provides grants to seniors and people living with disabilities. The grant for individuals is currently 94% of the 2024 Federal Poverty Level (FPL). We hope to work with the administration in future budget years to strengthen these programs to bring the individual grant to at least 100% of the poverty line and to reinstate the annual cost of living increase. We would also request a revival of the special circumstances program to assist SSI recipients with unexpected expenses.

Child Support

Despite 2022 budget trigger language, the May Revision did not include a provision to fund full pass-through of child support payments to currently assisted CalWORKs families. Based upon current revenue, this trigger was not pulled and there is a need to renew this language in the 2024-25 budget.

Child Care Slots

The May Revision pauses the promised expansion of child care slots and keeps them at the current level. By pausing this expansion, the state will reduce support for California’s working families by $489 million in 2024-25 and $951 million in 2025-26.

In-Home Supportive Services for Undocumented Individuals

As previously mentioned, the May Revision cut IHSS services for people who were previously excluded from Medi-Cal due to their immigration status at a reduction of $94.7 million. IHSS allows seniors and people with disabilities to safely stay in their home.

California Food Assistance Program Expansion

• The May Revision delays the promised expansion of the California Food Assistance Program (CFAP) for two years, pushing benefits back to the 2027-28 budget year. CFAP is the state-funded CalFresh counterpart that serves some immigrants who are excluded from CalFresh due to their immigration status.

• This delay prevents California from fulfilling the promise to expand food benefits to undocumented older adults, therefore perpetuating poverty, food insecurity, and again inflicting harm specifically on California’s low-income immigrant communities.

Download the full analysis here: WCLP Analysis of 2024-25 May Revision

New EBT Card Protection Available

A new application (for phones) is now available that can help you protect your EBT cash and food benefits. The EBT website now also has these additional security measures. The electronic thefts of benefits has dramatically increased, and these different options can help you keep your benefits safe.

 

The mobile phone application is called “ebtEDGE.” You can install that application on your phone through GooglePlay or the iStore. For computer and tablet users, you can access the card functions through the EBT cardholder portal at this link.

 

People with existing cardholder accounts set up on the website portal will have their information carried over to the new system. The first time you log in, however, you will be asked to set up challenge questions and answers for increased security. People first setting up their website accounts will also need to set up those questions/answers.

 

If you get a message that the username/password is ‘invalid’ OR you want to register for the first follow the instructions on the login page of the application.

 

EBT Customer Service will be available to help you: · Customer Service Email: [email protected]

· Toll-Free Customer Service Number* 877-328-9677

*also found on the back of EBT card

 

EbtEDGE will allow you to easily change your PIN – even turning it off until you want to use the card, so people cannot electronically steal your card and PIN information. You can also stop the card from being used out of your county or state, and other security measures. Click here to see all the new ways you can protect your benefits.

Congress’ Games Mean People Go Hungry

I can’t keep track of the number of days I’ve gone without lunch. Oftentimes, I eat breakfast at 8 a.m. and then wait 12 hours and eat dinner at 8 p.m., all so I don’t go to bed hungry. Being a full-time student and part-time preschool teacher, it was hard to be my best for myself and my young students.

As someone who experienced homelessness at age 19, I know how to make ends meet with meager funds. I know how to stretch my meals and what to purchase that won’t perish quickly. But no one should ever have to face the difficult circumstances and impossible choices I had to make.

As one of the plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit against the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), brought by Western Center on Law and Poverty and Impact Fund, I am sharing my story because food should not be treated as “optional.” Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) food benefits are not a “nice to have,” they are a “need to have” for 40 million Americans, many of whom are children, seniors and people with disabilities. In a major victory, we secured October benefits for this year and years to come, but each month after is another fight.

Congress averted a shutdown on Sept. 30 by passing a continuing resolution. If Congress can’t get their act together, millions will go hungry as the new year starts, thanks to their political games.

I make $1,300 a month as a part time preschool teacher. I am studying full-time to continue my impactful work with preschoolers and work toward more opportunities and better financial stability that are opened up to me with a degree. My monthly expenses for my basic needs such as rent, utilities, car insurance and gas needed to go to work, and out-of-pocket medical expenses, are almost identical to my monthly take-home income. I try to save any extra income from the months where I can work more hours to use in the months when my basic expenses go over my take-home pay. CalFresh, California’s version of SNAP, provides me with $88 in food benefits a month, down from $250 during the pandemic.

 

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