Evelyn, a single mother, was shocked when she went to pay for groceries with her CalFresh Electronic Benefits Transfer card and discovered that her benefits had been electronically stolen.
She filled out an affidavit and filed a police report. She then contacted the welfare department’s customer service, and was told that the matter would be investigated. “I just assumed that everything was going to be okay.”
Evelyn subsequently received a notice denying her request for reimbursement, even though the police had proof that she had not withdrawn the money. The state’s position was that they did not recognize electronic theft. “I couldn’t believe the money was not protected. I didn’t know how I was going to pay the rent that month, I didn’t know how my children and I were going to get by.”
To end situations like Evelyn’s, Western Center sponsored Assembly Bill 2035, which was signed by Governor Brown in 2012 to protect other recipients of cash assistance from electronic theft. “I felt like giving up, but I’m glad I didn’t, because now other families who depend on government assistance never have to go through something like this.”
Additionally, attorneys from Western Center and Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County filed a lawsuit on Evelyn’s behalf to prevent this from happening to other families in need. “The attorneys were so helpful, they made everyone listen when they didn’t listen to me alone.”