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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.

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

Attorney General Bonta, California Legislative Black Caucus Introduce Legislation to Reduce Black Maternal Mortality Through Implicit Bias Training

Monday, February 12, 2024

OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta, Assemblymember Lori Wilson (D-Suisun City), Assemblymember Dr. Akilah Weber (D-La Mesa), and members of the California Legislative Black Caucus, today introduced AB 2319 aimed to reduce the alarming and disproportionate maternal mortality rate of Black women and other pregnant persons of color by ensuring successful implementation of Senate Bill 464 (SB 464) (Mitchell), the California Dignity in Pregnancy and Childbirth Act of 2019 (Act). Today’s legislation builds on the California Department of Justice’s (DOJ) investigation to ensure and better equip healthcare facilities to come into full compliance with the Act, the findings of which were announced in DOJ’s Report on Healthcare Facilities and the California Dignity in Pregnancy and Childbirth Act. After DOJ began their investigation, providers’ rate of compliance improved dramatically from below 17% to over 81%. Although many facilities met the requirements of the Act, there is still work to be done to ensure full compliance.

“It is a tragic reality that race continues to be a factor in maternal health and infant mortality rates not just in California, but across this country,” said Attorney General Rob Bonta. “Together, we have made so much progress, and we must continue to address healthcare bias head-on. Today’s legislation does just that; it is designed to make transformational change in a system that has historically failed our mothers and babies, especially those of color. I want to thank the Legislative Black Caucus who worked tirelessly with us on this important legislation to create healthier outcomes for all Californians.”

“Black women in California face alarming disparities in maternal health outcomes. As a Black Mother and as Chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus, the fight to improve these outcomes is personal to me,” said Assemblywoman Lori D. Wilson (D–Suisun City). “I look forward to collaborating with our Attorney General Rob Bonta, Assemblymember Dr. Akilah Weber and other stakeholders to push this accountability measure across the finish line as we seek to make strides in improving Black maternal health outcomes throughout California.”

“The Black maternal morbidity and mortality rate cannot be explained by income or education levels alone. Data suggests what we know, what mothers have been brave enough to share, there is an embedded implicit bias in the maternal health care they receive. Providers ignore symptoms, ignore concerns to the horrible detriment of birthing women. So, sadly when uninformed care doesn’t result in death, it can still result in traumatic birthing experiences for both mother and child,” said Assemblymember Mia Bonta (D-Oakland), who is the newest Chair to the Assembly Health Committee. “California has been proactive in taking the steps to address this bias, but gaps in the process still exist. I am excited to partner with Assemblymember Wilson to address those shortcomings and ensure California is providing high quality healthcare for all women and birthing people so that everyone’s birthing experience concludes in a safe and healthy birth.”

“I stand in full support as a proud principal co-author of the collaborative efforts between the Attorney General and Assemblymember Wilson, Chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus, to fortify the implementation of SB 464, known as the California Dignity in Pregnancy and Childbirth Act,” said Assemblymember Mike A. Gipson (D-Carson). “This measure is fundamental in safeguarding the health and dignity of expectant mothers and their newborns. It is imperative that we redouble our efforts to uphold the principles of dignity and equity in pregnancy and childbirth. Together we can eradicate disparities in maternal care and promote equitable access to quality healthcare for all Californians.”

“California is failing its Black mothers. We have an obligation and moral duty to correct this grave injustice in California’s maternal healthcare. We owe it to our Black mothers to rectify the injustice causing alarming pregnancy-related deaths,” said Assemblymember Dr. Corey A. Jackson (D-Moreno Valley). “I am proud to support Attorney General Rob Bonta and Assemblymember Wilson for continuing this fight against bias and injustice in our healthcare settings. We must meet this moment and solve this issue immediately because lives are literally at stake.”

“The California Dignity in Pregnancy and Childbirth Act was driven by concerns over racial disparities in health care, and the black maternal morbidity and mortality crisis,” said Sandra Poole, Policy Advocate at Western Center on Law & Poverty. “The Act required evidence-based implicit bias training in the healthcare system to address this major factor in racial disparities.  Western Center on Law and Poverty applauds this legislation which would require full compliance with the Act, authorize penalties against non-compliant healthcare facilities, and ensure that healthcare systems are held accountable for providing care that is accessible to all Californians without structural inequities that are determinants of health outcomes.”

“California is a national leader when it comes to reproductive freedom, and we pride ourselves on having the lowest maternal mortality rate of any state in the country—but we still have tremendous work to do to ensure that all Black women and pregnant people in our state have access to quality, equitable, and unbiased care,” said Shannon Olivieri Hovis, Director at Reproductive Freedom for All California. “As a cosponsor of the original legislation requiring implicit bias training for perinatal providers, Reproductive Freedom for All California is proud to join this bill coalition, led by Attorney General Bonta and authored by Assemblymember Wilson and Dr. Weber. We are grateful to AG Bonta for his commitment to ensuring reproductive freedom for all.”

The United States has the highest maternal mortality rate in the developed world — a burden disproportionately borne by communities of color, especially Black women. In California in particular, Black women make up 5% of those pregnant but account for 21% of the total pregnancy-related deaths. This disparity exists across all income levels. Evidence suggests one key cause of this disparity is the implicit bias of healthcare providers. A provider’s level of bias, whether conscious or unconscious, can influence their interactions with patients and their diagnoses and treatment of the patient’s pain, and can undermine patients’ trust and engagement in care.

In August 2021, as part of an inquiry into whether providers were complying with the law, DOJ’s Healthcare Rights and Access Section (HRA) issued letters to California facilities requesting data on their implicit bias training of employees. Of the 242 responding facilities, 201 had not completed or even begun training staff until after receiving DOJ’s letters. Only 41 had begun training their employees in compliance with SB 464, but not a single employee had been fully trained. However, by July 8, 2022, when the investigation concluded, an average of 81.44% of the perinatal care staff in the 242 facilities had completed training.

DOJ’s investigation made clear that setting requirements as part of SB 464 was only the first step to ensuring the training of maternal care providers. Additional steps need to be taken to ensure hospitals and facilities comply with those requirements.

To help reach full compliance and thus help reduce maternal mortality AB 2319 would:

  • Provide clarity on which facilities are mandated to administer anti-bias trainings and which employees need to be trained.
  • Establish firm deadlines by which trainings must be completed to better guide compliance.
  • Confer enforcement powers to the California Department of Public Health and the Attorney General, along with accountability measures.
  • Require compliance data to be posted online so the public is made aware of which facilities have provided anti-bias trainings and which have not.
  • Establish administrative penalties for noncompliant facilities.
  • Add inclusive language to account for nonbinary people and men of transgender experience who also carry children and give birth.

Western Center’s 2024 Legislative Agenda

Western Center’s 2024 Legislative Agenda

February 28, 2024
Following is a list of bills to help secure housing, healthcare, and a strong safety net for low-income Californians that will be sponsored or co-sponsored by Western Center on Law & Poverty during the 2024 legislative session.

Healthcare

AB 2297 (Friedman): Medical Debt Protection
This bill would modernize the Hospital Fair Pricing Act by prohibiting the use of home liens to collect unpaid medical bills from financially eligible patients, clarifying hospitals must review financial assistance eligibility at any time, clarifying Medi-Cal and Medicare cost sharing amounts can be deducted under financial assistance policies, defining charity care as free care, and other changes.
(Co-sponsored with Bet Tzedek)
AB 2297 Fact Sheet

AB 2319 (Wilson, Weber): Reducing Black Maternal Mortality through Implicit Bias Training
This bill would reduce the disproportionate maternal mortality rate of Black women and other pregnant persons of color by ensuring successful implementation of the California Dignity in Pregnancy and Childbirth Act of 2019 (SB 464 (Mitchell)) by clarifying which facilities are mandated to administer anti-bias trainings, confers enforcement powers to CDPH and the Attorney General, establishes administrative penalties for noncompliant facilities and requires compliance data to be posted online.
(Co-sponsored with Attorney General Rob Bonta, Black Women for Wellness Action Project, Reproductive Freedom for All California, California Nurse-Midwives Association and the California Black Women’s Collective)
AB 2319 Fact Sheet

AB 2753 (Ortega): Rehabilitative and Habilitative Services: Durable Medical Equipment and Services
This bill would clarify that durable medical equipment is a covered essential health benefit in California-regulated health plans and policies when prescribed by a doctor for rehabilitative or habilitative purposes. The bill would also remove limitations such as annual caps on durable medical equipment coverage.
(Co-sponsored with National Health Law Program)
AB 2753 Fact Sheet

AB 2956 (Boerner): Protecting Medi-Cal Coverage for Californians
This bill would allow people to keep their Medi-Cal coverage for a full 12 months, regardless of changes in their income and would direct California to seek federal approval, when necessary, to make permanent the federal Medi-Cal flexibilities to reduce and remedy procedural terminations, simplify income verification requirements, increase automatic Medi-Cal renewals, and improve program outreach and customer service. (Co-sponsored with The Children’s Partnership and Latino Coalition for a Healthy California)
AB 2956 Fact Sheet

AB 3170 (Ortega): Drug Testing of Pregnant People
This bill will be amended to indicate that any drug or alcohol test or screen performed by the staff or contractor of a health care institution on a pregnant or perinatal person or newborn, or any information on drug or alcohol use in the pregnant or perinatal person or newborn’s medical records, shall not be admitted in any criminal or civil proceeding, including juvenile dependency proceedings, over the objection of the person who was tested.

SB 1289 (Roth): County Call Center Oversight and Reporting
This bill would remedy the barriers at county call centers by directing the promulgation of regulations that set basic standards for things like wait times and requiring DHCS to publish online call center data from all 58 counties.
(Co-sponsored with Coalition of California Welfare Rights Organizations)

Housing

AB 653 (Reyes): Increasing Voucher Utilization
This bill would create a competitive grant program for public housing authorities (PHAs) to fund housing navigation services, landlord incentives, and deposit resources to increase lease-up success rates for tenants with Housing Choice Vouchers. This bill would require PHAs to annually report their success rate and require those with a success rate below 60% to adopt certain policies to increase housing choice and work with HCD to analyze and improve their policies.
(Co-sponsored with Housing California, Corporation for Supportive Housing, United Ways of California, and the National Housing Law Project).

AB 846 (Bonta): Low-income housing Credit.
This bill would establish anti-price gouging protections for rent in properties funded by the low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) program.
(Co-sponsored with the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation and Public Advocates)

AB 2304 (Lee): Masking Limited Civil Unlawful Detainer Cases
This bill will close the gaps in the state eviction masking laws and ensure that all tenants are protected as originally intended.
(Co-sponsored with the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation).

AB 2347 (Kalra): Protecting Tenant Due Process Rights
This bill would preserve the due process rights of tenants by preventing evictions when a tenant has not been properly served.
(Co-sponsored with the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation).

ACA 10 (Haney): Housing is a Human Right
ACA 10 will recognize that every Californian has the fundamental human right to adequate housing on an equitable and non-discriminatory basis. Should the measure pass in the legislature, California voters will have the opportunity to vote to add this right to the state’s constitution, creating an obligation on the part of state and local governments to take meaningful action to fully realize the right.
(Co-sponsored with Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) Action, End Poverty in California (EPIC), Housing Now, ACLU California Action, Abundant Housing LA, National Homelessness Law Center, and PowerCA Action)

Public Benefits and Access to Justice

AB 274 (Bryan): CalWORKs: CalFresh: Eligibility: Income Exclusions
This bill would exempt any grant, award, scholarship, loan, or fellowship benefit provided to any assistance unit member for educational purposes from consideration as income or resources for purposes of determining CalWORKs eligibility or grant amounts. The bill would also require the State Department of Social Services to exercise a federal option to exclude, for purposes of calculating a household’s income under CalFresh, any type of income that the department excludes when determining eligibility or benefits for CalWORKs.

AB 1815 (Weber): Discrimination: Hairstyles: Amateur Sports Organizations
This bill expands upon the CROWN act by prohibiting an amateur sports club or organization from discriminating against any person based on race, inclusive of traits historically associated with race, including, but not limited to, hair texture and protective hairstyles in the operation, conduct, or administration of a youth or amateur sports competition, training, camp, or club.
AB 1815 Fact Sheet

AB 3170 (Ortega): Drug Testing of Pregnant People
This bill will be amended to indicate that any drug or alcohol test or screen performed by the staff or contractor of a health care institution on a pregnant or perinatal person or newborn, or any information on drug or alcohol use in the pregnant or perinatal person or newborn’s medical records, shall not be admitted in any criminal or civil proceeding, including juvenile dependency proceedings, over the objection of the person who was tested.

SB 1107 (Durazo): Public Social Services: County Departments: Mail Programs
This bill would require a county human services agency that administers public benefits to develop and implement a program to ensure that, at a minimum, homeless residents of a county can pick up and receive government-related mail addressed to the resident at a place designated by the agency.

Contact our Sacramento Advocates: For more information about Western Center on Law & Poverty and our advocacy priorities, go to www.wclp.org.

Brandon Greene, Director of Policy Advocacy
[email protected]
916-282-5112

Health
Linda Nguy
[email protected]
916-282-5117

Sandra O. Poole
[email protected]
916-282-5141

Housing
Cynthia Castillo
[email protected]
916-282-5103

Tina Rosales
[email protected]
916-282-5118

Public Benefits and Access to Justice
Christopher Sanchez
[email protected]
916-282-5104

Rebecca Gonzales
[email protected]
916-282-5119

Analysis Of Governor Newsom’s 2024-2025 January Budget Proposal

Analysis Of Governor Newsom’s 2024-2025 January Budget Proposal

January 11, 2024

 

On January 10, Governor Newsom released his January proposal for the 2024-25 California state budget. The Governor’s $291 billion state spending plan estimates a $37.9 billion deficit, a smaller shortfall than the $68 billion the Legislative Analyst’s Office predicted last month but with ‘reasonable’ revenues according to the LAO. We appreciate that the proposal honors past commitments, including expansion of Medi-Cal to all income-eligible adults regardless of immigration status, and that there are no cuts to caseloads or grants to our most vulnerable families on CalWORKs and SSI. However, we are concerned with proposed cuts to CalWORKs supportive services, such as family stabilization programs, which fund programs that help families get back on their feet. Economic downturns hit low-income families the hardest and often result in a slower recovery period for these families; that makes it all the more urgent that we protect and strengthen California’s safety net.

 

Below are our initial reactions to the proposed budget by issue area.

 

HEALTH CARE

 

Continued and new health care investments

  • Maintains past budget actions on Health4All and Medi-Cal asset test elimination: The Governor’s proposal maintains previous year’s budget actions to implement full-scope Medi-Cal coverage expansion to all adults, regardless of immigration status. Effective January 2024, all Californians with incomes below 138% of FPL are eligible for Medi-Cal regardless of immigration status with no need to count assets.
  • Urge timely implementation of Share of Cost Reform and continuous eligibility for children: The 2022 budget deal to update Medi-Cal Share of Cost so that seniors and people with disabilities can afford to access needed Medi-Cal services and continuous Medi-Cal coverage for children ages zero to five is subject to contingencies, so we urge timely implementation of these critical programs.
  • Medi-Cal Caseload and Eligibility Redeterminations: The proposal assumes Medi-Cal caseload of 14.8 million in 2023-24, an increase of 583,000 individuals compared to the 2023 Budget Act due to overestimate of those who would no longer be eligible for Medi-Cal and resulting in increased costs of $2.3 billion ($499 million General Fund) in 2023-24 compared to the 2023 Budget Act.
  • Covered California: The proposal maintains key affordability measures for those in Covered California by including $82.5 million in 2023-24 and $165 million annually thereafter to support financial assistance for individuals purchasing coverage on Covered California. For the 2024 coverage year, these subsidies would result in elimination of deductibles and reduction in copayments and other health care cost sharing for more than 600,000 Californians.
  • Children and Youth Behavioral Health Initiative Wellness Coaches: The proposal includes $9.5 million ($4.1 million General Fund) in 2024-25 increasing annually to $78 million ($33.8 million General Fund) in 2027-28 to establish the wellness coach benefit to serve children and youth in Medi-Cal effective January 1, 2025.

 

Health measures/savings to close budget shortfalls

  • Safety Net Reserve Withdrawal: The proposal withdraws $900 million from the Safety Net Reserve (full amount) to maintain existing program benefits and services for the Medi-Cal and CalWORKs programs.
  • Managed Care Organization (MCO) Tax: The proposal seeks early Legislative action to request the federal government approve an amendment to increase the tax to achieve $20.9 billion in total funding to the state, an increase of $1.5 billion over three years compared to the approved MCO Tax last December.
  • Assisted Living Waiver and Home-and Community-Based Services Waiver Slot Increases: The proposal increases slots for the Assisted Living Waiver and the Home and Community-Based Alternatives Waiver, resulting in $10.8 million net General Fund savings in 2024-25.
  • Health care worker minimum wage ‘trigger’ language: Last year’s chaptered SB 525 (Durazo) would incrementally raise the minimum wage to $25 for nearly 500,000 health care workers, with the first pay increases rolling out in June, but the Administration is seeking early legislative action in January to add an annual “trigger” to make the minimum wage increases subject to General Fund revenue availability.
  • Delay in behavioral health and workforce initiatives, including:
    • Behavioral Health: Delays $140.4 million General Fund from 2024-25 to 2025-26 for the final round of Behavioral Health Continuum Infrastructure Program grants; shifts $265 million from the Mental Health Services Fund that was appropriated in the 2023 Budget Act to the General Fund in 2024-25 related to the Behavioral Health Bridge Housing, and delays $235 million General Fund from 2024-25 to 2025-26.
    • Workforce: Delays $140.1 million General Fund to 2025-26 for the nursing and social work initiatives; $189.4 million Mental Health Services Fund to 2025-26 for the social work initiative, addiction psychiatry fellowships, university and college grants for behavioral health professionals, expanding Master of Social Work slots, and the local psychiatry behavioral health program.
  • Defers resources for recently chaptered bills: The proposal defers the consideration of resource requests associated with recently chaptered legislation to the May Revision, including: AB 425 related to Medi-Cal pharmacogenomic testing; AB 1163 related to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender disparities reduction; SB 311 related to Medicare Part A buy-in; and SB 496 related to biomarker testing.

 

HOUSING

California is still reeling from the housing and houselessness crisis, compounded with the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, accessing and maintaining affordable housing for low-income Black and brown families is nearly impossible. The Governor’s January Budget Proposal proposes $1.2 billion in stark cuts across various critical housing programs. The proposed budget will halt progress at a time when Californians are grappling with alarming housing cost burdens, widespread housing instability, and an urgent need to solve homelessness.

The following reversions and cuts to housing programs are proposed:

  • Infill Infrastructure Grant Program: A reversion of $200 million General Fund
  • Multifamily Housing Program: A reversion of $250 million General Fund
  • Regional Early Action Planning Grants 2.0 (REAP 2.0): A reversion of $300 million General Fund
  • Foreclosure Intervention Housing Preservation Program: A reduction of $247.5 million General Fund over the next three years
  • CalHome Program: A reversion of $152.5 million General Fund
  • Veteran Housing and Homelessness Prevention Program: A reversion of $50 million General Fund
  • Housing Navigators: A reduction of $13.7 million General Fund ongoing for Housing Navigators.

 

These cuts essentially zero out funding for the state Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, Multifamily Housing Program, Infill Infrastructure Grant Program, Veterans Housing and Homelessness Prevention Program, and CalHome Programs for the coming year. It also reverts $900 million of funds appropriated to these programs in 2023. These cuts will result in 6,400 fewer affordable homes and the loss of $1.6 billion in federal housing resources, at a time when housing instability and homelessness have never been greater nor more on top of voters’ minds.

 

As it relates to homelessness, the proposal maintains the previous multiyear budget allocation to address the houselessness crisis, including continued funding for Project Homekey ($2.8 million) and expanding Community Care programs ($860 million). Additionally, the proposal maintains its past commitments to the Homeless Housing, Assistance and Prevention program, but there will be a need to secure future dollars for the 2024-25 budget to avoid a state funding cliff to local governments. Disappointingly, the Governor continues to fund houselessness encampment sweeps at $750 million instead of focusing on California’s commitment to Housing First strategies, such as funding affordable housing.

 

The federal government has stepped in and allocated California billions of dollars from the American Rescue Plan Act. These funds have been allocated to construct and preserve affordable housing for all and to rehabilitating affordable housing for people experiencing houselessness. While this is much needed funding, it is crucialto ensure that the funding is used to stabilize low-income communities, rather than promote displacement, which has been a growing trend amongst ‘trickle down housing’ advocates.

 

In addition, the challenges of this year’s budget clearly underscore the dire need to not only place AB 1657 (Wicks), the statewide affordable housing bond, on the November ballot to ensure stable funding for critical affordable housing programs over the following four years, but also to create a permanent source of robust ongoing state funding for affordable housing and homelessness programs.

 

PUBLIC BENEFITS AND ACCESS TO JUSTICE

 

CalWORKs: We appreciate that the proposal maintains grant levels for CalWORKs, which serves our poorest children, in households that are led by women of color, including 60% Latina and 17% Black, and includes intent to participate in the federal TANF pilot. However, we are concerned with potential cuts that may have significant impacts on families who continue to struggle to recover economically from the pandemic, including:

  • Family stabilization: reverts $55 million General Fund in 2023-24 and reduce $71 million General Fund beginning in 2024-25 and ongoing for family stabilization programs. These programs were created to strengthen CalWORKs families coming out of the Great Recession to ensure housing, mental health, safety, and family stability.
  • Employment Services Intensive Case Management: reduces $47 million General Fund beginning in 2024-25 and ongoing for county staff to provide one-on-one assistance to CalWORKs participants requiring exceptional support to overcome barriers to employment.
  • Subsidized employment: reverts $134.1 million General Fund in 2023-24 and reduces $134.1 million General Fund in 2024-25 and ongoing.

 

Child Welfare: Unfortunately, the proposed budget includes cuts in child welfare, including a $30 million cut in 2024-25 and ongoing to the Family Urgent Response System (FURS) which provides 24/7 emergency response for current or former foster youth, probation youth and their caregivers. There is also a $8.3 million cut to the Los Angeles County Child Welfare Services Public Health Nursing Program which ensures that foster youth receive necessary health screenings and expedited referrals. Lastly, there was a decrease of $195,000 in 2024-25 and $25.5 million in 2025-26 and ongoing to the housing supplement for foster youth in Supervised Independent Living Placements (SILPS) which helps stabilize older foster youth and helps to ensure that they will not become homeless.

 

Supplemental Security Income/State Supplementary Payment (SSI/SSP): The proposal includes the federal SSI 3.2% cost-of-living adjustment and maintains last year’s 9.2% SSP increase that was implemented on January 1, 2024, for a grant amount of $1,183 per month for individuals and $2,023 per month for couples. The individual grant is 93% of the Federal Poverty Level using the 2023 index.

California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC): The proposal does not make a change to the CalEITC, but only proposes $10 million for tax credit outreach, education and free tax preparation. This figure is down from $20 million last year.

 

Overall Safety-Net Programs: We are encouraged that the proposal continues to fund expansions of life saving safety-net programs to all Californians and stand with immigrant communities who continue to advocate for the inclusion into critical safety-net programs that allow them to age with dignity, provide access to food, and access to wage replacement program.

 

For questions, contact:

 

Settlement Finalized in Katie A. vs. Los Angeles County Mental Health Lawsuit

After more than 20 years of litigation, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, Western Division, has given final approval to a settlement in the longstanding case Katie A. v. Los Angeles County. The Court’s action ends a federal class action lawsuit that, over time, led to significantly improved mental health services for children and young adults in foster care or who face imminent risk of placement in foster care. 

Filed in 2002, the suit alleged the county and state agencies failed to provide legally mandated health care services to youth in its custody. The lack of mental health services harmed foster youth by increasing the likelihood they would be removed from their homes.  Removals compound trauma for foster youth, making the lack of appropriate care even harder for children already struggling with mental illness.

“In the beginning of this lawsuit, we saw many youth have multiple moves due to behaviors that weren’t being addressed with treatment, and they were losing important connections to family and community,” said Antionette Dozier, one of Western Center’s lead attorneys on the case. 

While the County has instituted numerous new systems as a result of the lawsuit, perhaps most noteworthy is the now-standard practice for youth to receive intensive home-based mental health services that aim to keep youth with severe mental health needs in a homelike setting. Previously, they were more likely to have been  hospitalized or sent to a group home.

The County first settled the lawsuit in 2003 and agreed to provide mental health services, in addition to a long monitoring process. Plaintiffs filed a successful motion in 2009 to enforce the original settlement provisions.

Eventually, the plaintiffs reached separate settlement agreements with both the state and LA County in the case.

Co-counsel include: Disability Rights California, Bazelon Center for Mental Health, National Center for Youth Law, Public Counsel.

 

In response to street vendor lawsuit, City Council members acknowledge the need to bring L.A.’s street vending ordinance into legal compliance, but the proposal still falls short.

In response to street vendor lawsuit, City Council members acknowledge the need to bring L.A.’s street vending ordinance into legal compliance, but the proposal still falls short.

Los Angeles – On Friday, October 20, 2023, a motion was introduced in Los Angeles City Council calling for the City’s Sidewalk Vending Ordinance to be amended in order to comply with state law. Currently, the City’s Sidewalk Vending Ordinance excludes sidewalk vendors from 9 City areas representing some of the most popular pedestrian areas of the City, including the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The motion proposes City officials create new vending rules for Hollywood Boulevard and the Hollywood Bowl, to be crafted in consultation with the vending community.

The No Vending Zones in the City’s Sidewalk Vending Ordinance, along with several other restrictive regulations, are currently the subject of a lawsuit filed in December 2022 by sidewalk vendors and sidewalk vendor advocates. The judge overseeing this lawsuit made an early ruling indicating that he found little justification for Los Angeles’ regulations under state law. Trial is set for February 2024.

We share the general goals described in this motion –  to create a lawful and successful sidewalk vending program that balances legitimate safety considerations with economic inclusion. In fact, street vendors have long been proposing these exact ideas, and have advocated tirelessly for inclusive and transparent policies that would allow these small businesses to operate with dignity and safety. So while it should not have required our lawsuit to motivate these actions, we appreciate the support of the council members authoring this motion, as well as this express acknowledgement that the City must bring its ordinance into legal compliance.

But this motion does not actually propose to eliminate the unlawful No Vending Zones, and it risks repeating the process that resulted in the illegal restrictions in the first place. The motion does not immediately end the City’s unjust exclusion of vendors from entire neighborhoods, nor does it address the deep financial, emotional, and psychological harms experienced by vendors from years of draconian enforcement of these unlawful and exclusionary policies. The motion does not address the illegal citation practices of the Bureau of Street Services (StreetsLA) over the past four years, or provide redress to vending businesses that have been harmed by StreetsLA’s retaliatory actions. The motion does not address the other regulations we challenge in our lawsuit, including the unnecessary and potentially illegal buffer zones around swap meets and schools. Ultimately, the motion may lead to an unnecessary patchwork of confusing policies, still not aligned with state law.

Vendors cannot afford to continue to rack up thousands of dollars in illegitimate fines while a motion works its way through multiple committees and politicized discussions. Half-measure steps in the right direction will not resolve the litigation. Therefore, our lawsuit will proceed until the foundational legal issues underlying our case are resolved. And we will vigorously oppose any effort to use this motion, and its protracted timeline,  as justification for delaying full resolution of our legal claims. We continue to welcome a conversation with the City that centers the voices and experiences of vendors, but we are not deterred from pursuing our strong legal claims and we are confident that we will prevail in court if necessary.

 

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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.

Public Counsel: Founded in 1970, Public Counsel is the nation’s largest provider of pro bono legal services, utilizing an innovative legal model to promote justice, hope, and opportunity in lower-income and communities of color in Los Angeles and across the nation. Through groundbreaking civil rights litigation, community building, advocacy, and policy change, as well as wide-ranging direct legal services that annually help thousands of people experiencing poverty, Public Counsel has fought to secure equal justice and opportunity for all for more than 50 years.

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.

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