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PRESS RELEASE: Settlement in Warren v. Chico – City to build individual shelters, unhoused residents won’t be arrested or cited for sleeping outside when shelter is unavailable

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(Chico, CA) Today, Judge Morrison England of the District Court in Sacramento approved the settlement reached between Plaintiffs, eight unhoused Chico residents, and the City of Chico in Warren, et al. v. City of Chico, et al.

Under the settlement, the City agrees to increase shelter options for homeless Chico residents by building the City’s first non-congregate shelter site at the former BMX location at 2352 Dr Martin Luther King Jr Pkwy. There will be 177 individual Pallet Shelters, each of which will have a locking door, electricity, heat, and air conditioning. The City will provide meals, showers, laundry, and other services at the shelter site. The City will also implement a number of other important changes in how it enforces its sleeping and camping ordinances to safeguard the constitutional rights of unhoused community members.

“As a woman living outside since losing my home over three years ago in the Camp Fire, I have not been able to sleep at night because I feared for my safety and because of the cold,” said Plaintiff Tona Peterson. “I and many others living outside will now have a private space with a locking door and heat. I’ll be able to get more things done each day and work with the on-site services. We all will.”

Plaintiffs filed the lawsuit on April 8, 2021 and Judge England enjoined the City from enforcing its sleeping and camping ordinances in the time since April 11, 2021. Judge England’s settlement order dissolves the preliminary injunction, but prevents any enforcement of the ordinances until the new shelter opens.

“This settlement includes common sense solutions that many unhoused and housed Chico community members have pushed for as the City’s affordable housing crisis has worsened, pushing more and more people outside” said Sarah Steinheimer with Legal Services of Northern California’s Sacramento office and lead counsel for Plaintiffs.

Once the shelter opens, the City may enforce its sleeping and camping ordinances but only when there is sufficient shelter for everyone sleeping on the designated public property where it plans to enforce its ordinances.

“Today’s settlement and order reaffirms the rights and dignity of Chico’s unhoused community members who are often targeted for just trying to survive outside, even though there is not sufficient available housing or even temporary shelter,” said Cory Turner of Legal Services of Northern California’s Chico office and counsel for the Plaintiffs.

The order signed by Judge England puts an end to the lawsuit, but the Court retains jurisdiction to enforce the settlement for five years.

Robert Newman with the Western Center on Law & Poverty and co-counsel for the Plaintiffs additionally observes, “Governor Newsom’s new budget proposes billions of additional dollars for people experiencing homelessness. The City of Chico should take advantage of that opportunity to provide desperately needed housing for its residents.”

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Analysis of Governor Newsom’s 2022-2023 California Budget Proposal

Governor Newsom released his January proposal for the 2022-23 California state budget. In total, the administration projects a $45 billion surplus — a combination of higher revenue collections for the past two budgets and higher than anticipated revenue for the 2022-23 budget. As the governor noted in his press conference, if current economic trends continue, the surplus could grow even more by the time the proposed budget is revised in May. The budget includes a record $36 billion reserve.

SUMMARY

The governor’s proposed budget includes a historic investment in health care by expanding Medi-Cal eligibility for those currently excluded from the program due to immigration status, and by eliminating Medi-Cal premiums for children, pregnant people, and people with disabilities. It does not eliminate the burdensome “share of cost” that many people on Medi-Cal still pay as a monthly deductible.

The budget also includes expanded funding to house people experiencing homelessness, a large investment in health care related workforce development, and an expansion of proposals intended to reduce poverty such as increasing CalWORKs grants, passing on all child support to families formerly on public assistance, and expanding the state child tax credit to households with no reported income. The budget also proposes to fund 36,000 new childcare slots for working families, but this means approximately 150,000 families will remain on the waiting list.

Unfortunately, this proposal misses an opportunity to build on significant progress made through existing poverty-reduction initiatives. Despite the expiration of the very effective federal child tax credit increase, the governor’s proposed budget does not backfill that lost income for California families. It also fails to fund more stimulus payments for Californians with low incomes. Additionally, it does not provide a cost-of-living increase for the SSI/SSP grant as required by state law, and it does not accelerate the SSI/SSP grant restoration scheduled for January 2024.

The need for rental and utility assistance in California has greatly outpaced federal funds allocated to the state. While California was recently allocated an additional $62 million in federal funds to address the growing need, the state needs about $2 billion. The governor missed an opportunity to supplement the federal dollars with surplus from the General Fund. However, California will continue to advocate for additional funding from the federal government.

Despite the large surplus and number of proposed initiatives, the governor’s proposal uses just $20 billion for the needs of Californians. More than half of the surplus is being used to fund reserves and to pay off long term debt. Of the $20 billion being spent, the governor proposes to use 86 percent for one-time expenditures. The reluctance to invest in ongoing needs means proposals that could make a major impact, like funding a broadly available rental assistance program, are not part of the discussion. The legislature should review the governor’s budget with an eye toward meeting more of the short- and long-term needs of all Californians.

HEALTH CARE

The governor’s proposal expands Medi-Cal to all adults regardless of immigration status. This would make California the first state in the nation to cover all adults, and together with the recent increase in the income level for seniors and people with disabilities, as well as the scheduled elimination of the Medi-Cal assets test by January 1, 2024, all adults under 138 percent of the poverty level will be eligible for free, full-scope Medi-Cal. The governor’s proposal also eliminates premiums for children, pregnant people, and the Working Disabled Program, and expands Medi-Cal coverage of custom crowns for back teeth. In addition, there are affordability, provider payment, and workforce investments.

Medi-Cal

  • Health4All: The governor’s proposal expands full-scope Medi-Cal coverage to an estimated 700,000+ undocumented adults ages 26 through 49, effective no sooner than January 1, 2024, with estimated costs of $819 million total funds ($614 million General Fund) in FY 2023-24 and $2.3 billion total funds ($1.8 billion General Fund) at full implementation.
  • Zero out premiums: The proposed budget includes $53 million total funds ($19 million General Fund) in FY 2022-23 and $89 million total funds ($31 million General Fund) ongoing and trailer bill language to reduce premiums to zero for Medi-Cal and other Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) programs. This includes Medi-Cal premiums for children above 160 percent of the poverty level, the 250 percent Working Disabled Program premiums, as well as the premiums for pregnant women and infants under the Medi-Cal Access Program (MCAP) and County Children’s Health Insurance Programs (C-CHIP).
  • Justice-related initiatives: The proposal includes $50 million total funds ($16 million General Fund) in FY 2022-23 to implement the CalAIM justice-related initiatives with implementation beginning January 2023. This includes pre-release applications, pre-release “in-reach” services, and coordinated re-entry. There will also be trailer bill language to extend the duration of suspension of Medi-Cal benefits when an individual is incarcerated to increase the likelihood that coverage is maintained.
  • Dental Lab Processed Crown (AKA Custom Crown) Coverage: The budget includes $37 million total funds ($13 million General Fund) in FY 2022-23 and trailer bill language to update adult coverage requirements to include lab processed crowns for posterior teeth, in place of stainless-steel crowns. Also related to dental, the administration proposes to extend dental managed care contracts and procure new contracts no sooner than January 1, 2024.
  • The governor’s proposal includes the following provider payment investments:
    • Proposition 56 Supplemental Provider Payment Backfill: To address declining tobacco revenue, the proposal includes an increase of $29 million from the General Fund to fully fund remaining Proposition 56 payments at their current level in FY 2022-23.
    • Equity and Practice Transformation Payments: To close health equity gaps in preventive, maternity, and behavioral health care measures and address gaps in care arising out of the pandemic, the proposal includes $400 million total funds ($200 million General Fund) in one-time funds, aligning with the goals of the Medi-Cal Comprehensive Quality and Equity Strategy.
    • Elimination of Certain AB 97 Provider Payment Reductions: The budget includes $20 million total funds ($9 million General Fund) in FY 2022-23 and $24 million total funds ($11 million General Fund) ongoing to eliminate AB 97 payment reductions for nurses, alternative birthing centers, audiologists/hearing aid dispensers, respiratory care providers, durable medical equipment, oxygen and respiratory services, chronic dialysis clinics, non-emergency medical transportation, and emergency air medical transportation.
  • Discontinue Child Health and Disability Program (CHDP) and Expand Children’s Presumptive Eligibility (PE): The Department is proposing to sunset CHDP by July 1, 2023 via trailer bill language and replace with the Children’s Presumptive Eligibility Program, which will include all Medi-Cal providers.
  • Mobile Crisis Services: The proposal includes $108 million total funds ($16 million General Fund) and trailer bill language to add qualifying 24/7 community-based mobile crisis intervention services as a Medi-Cal benefit as soon as January 1, 2023. The benefit will be implemented through county behavioral health delivery systems by multidisciplinary mobile crisis teams in the community.

Other Health Proposals 

  • Office of Health Care Affordability: The proposal reappropriates funding for the Office that was originally included in the 2021 Budget Act (originally $11.2 million in 2020-21 and $24.5 million in 2022-23) and proposes statutory changes for its establishment. The Office is charged with increasing cost and quality transparency, developing cost targets for the health care industry, enforcing compliance, and filing gaps in market oversight.
  • Covered California: The proposal continues to deposit into a reserve fund to be used for future Covered California affordability programs the $333.4 million General Fund that would have been used for Covered California state premium subsidies (not currently needed due to American Rescue Plan Funds).  The administration intends to work with the Legislature to determine the best use of these funds based on the recent AB 133 affordability report produced by Covered California, after determining what ongoing federal support will be available. In addition, the proposal continues to include $20 million General Fund in 2022-23 to support the One-Dollar Premium Subsidy program, which zeros the cost of Covered California consumers for health plans due to federal policy concerning abortion coverage.
  • Behavioral Health Bridge Housing: The proposed budget includes $1.5 billion General Fund ($1 billion in FY 2022-23 and $500 million in FY 2023-24) for behavioral health bridge housing to address the immediate housing and treatment needs of people experiencing unsheltered homelessness with serious behavioral health conditions by purchasing and installing tiny homes and providing time-limited operational supports in various bridge housing settings.
  • Workforce Development: The proposal includes $1.7 billion in Care Economy Workforce investments, including $350 million General Fund to recruit and train 25,000 new community health workers as well as additional health care providers.

HOUSING & HOMELESSNESS

In total, the governor’s 2022-2023 budget dedicates $9 billion for housing and $8 billion for homelessness. Largely building on last year’s efforts, this budget proposal attempts to chip away at the housing and homelessness crisis by streamlining production, increasing housing accountability, and funding homelessness solutions through a climate focused lens.

This “Housing as a Climate Strategy’’ focuses on preservation and production of affordable housing near schools, jobs, transit, density, and community hubs to fight climate change. Despite the well-placed investments in climate resilient housing, the budget falls short in supporting struggling Californians from eviction with the notable lack of state funding for eviction protection. The budget also proposes to battle the state homelessness crisis with an eye toward housing and behavioral health. While on the surface this plan addresses the long-standing need for better mental health for the unhoused community, it plays on the trope that all people experiencing homelessness have mental health conditions, rather than recognizing the very tangible fact that most Californians simply cannot afford the high cost of living, which has steepened since the start of the pandemic.

The governor is also increasing funding for “beautification” and “hazardous material removal” in encampments, which translates to increased sweeps, harassment, and further ostracization of people experiencing homelessness. With another budget surplus, we hope the budget’s May revision will use the additional funding to preserve and increase affordable housing, prevent needless evictions with increased funding for California’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program, and provide tangle solutions to get people off the streets and into safe, stable, affordable, and permanent housing.

Affordable Housing and Climate 

  • $300 million one-time General Fund for the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities program to support land-use, housing, transportation, and land preservation projects for infill and compact development that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • $100 million one-time General Fund to expand affordable housing development and adaptive reuse opportunities on state excess land sites.
  • $100 million one-time General Fund for adaptive reuse incentive grants to remove cost impediments to adaptive reuse (e.g., structural improvements, plumbing/electrical design, exiting) and help accelerate residential conversions, with a priority on projects located in downtown-oriented areas.
  • $500 million in Low-Income Housing Tax Credits.
    • $4.6 million in farmworker Housing Assistance Tax Credits.
  • $200 million one-time General Fund for the California Housing Finance Agency (CalHFA) to provide loans to developers for mixed-income rental housing, specifically for households with incomes between 30 percent and 120 percent of the Area Median Income.
  • $200 million one-time General Fund for the Portfolio Reinvestment Program to further preserve targeted units in downtown-oriented areas and continue increasing the state’s affordable housing stock.

Mobile Home Rehab

  • $100 million one-time General Fund for HCD’s Mobile Home Park Rehabilitation and Resident Ownership Program. These funds will finance the preservation and development of affordable mobile home parks.

Infill Housing

  • Infill Infrastructure Grant Program—$500 million one-time General Fund ($225 million in 2022-23, and $275 million in 2023-24).

Emergency Rental Assistance Program

  • California requested an additional $1.9 billion in federal funding to address the growing need for rental assistance and utility assistance for Californians. California was allocated an additional $62 million from the U.S. Department of Treasury. While grateful that California was allocated 30 percent of the total federal reallocation, this amount is woefully short of the need.  Currently, California needs almost $2 billion more than what we were originally allocated, and the need is growing. California will continue to advocate with the federal government to obtain additional rental and utility assistance.

Formerly Incarcerated Housing

  • $10.6 million one-time General Fund over three years to the Returning Home Well program that will provide transitional housing to parolees at risk of housing insecurity or homelessness.

Legal Services for Renters

  • $40 million investment in legal assistance for renters and homeowners.

Homelessness

  • $2 billion one-time General Fund, multi-year grant to cities, large counties and Continuums of Care working with the California Interagency Council on Homelessness (Cal-ICH). Cal-ICH will work with grantees on their homelessness accountability plans.
  • $500 million one-time general fund dollars in housing encampment resolution efforts that will expand program jurisdictions investment in short- and long-term rehousing strategies for people experiencing homelessness.
  • $25 million in Clean California and $20.6 million for hazardous material removal at encampments.
  • $1 million investment in homeless youth programs.
  • $1.5 billion in General Funds over two years dedicated to resources to address the immediate housing and treatment needs of people experiencing homelessness who have behavioral health conditions. This funding will be administered through DHCS’ Behavioral Health Continuum Infrastructure program to purchase tiny homes and facilitate bridge/transitional housing. Such funding can also be used for bridge housing including an expansion of Project Homekey Acquisition.
  • $5 million for Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA).

PUBLIC BENEFITS & ACCESS TO JUSTICE

CalWORKs Grants

The governor is proposing a 7.1 percent grant increase to CalWORKs grants starting October 1, 2022. The funding for the increase comes from Child Poverty Subaccount, a stream of revenue dedicated to CalWORKs grant increases. As a result of the 7.1 percent increase, maximum CalWORKs grants will equal 54 percent of the federal poverty level. For families not subject to sanctions, timed off aid or with an ineligible adult, the grant levels exceed the deep poverty level, which means a reduction in the well-documented, long-term negative impacts of deep poverty on children. Despite the increase in the grant level, the administration’s budget does not fulfill the commitment to increase CalWORKs grants so that no child is living in deep poverty. The so-called AU+1 approach requires significantly more investment than this budget provides. Below is a chart which shows current grant amounts, grant amounts with the 7.1 percent increase, the percent of the federal poverty level, what the grant would need to be to ensure an end to deep poverty, and lastly, the gap between the current grant and an end to deep poverty.

Workforce Development

The administration is proposing two major investments in workforce development. One is a $1.5 billion Proposition 98 General Fund effort to support the development of college and career pathways focused on education, health care, technology, and climate-related fields. Promoting pathways that allow students to move seamlessly from high school to college and career will improve the number of students who pursue and achieve post-secondary education and training.

The governor is also proposing to invest $1.7 billion over three years in care economy workforce development—across both the Labor Agency and California Health and Human Services Agency—that will create more innovative and accessible opportunities to recruit, train, and hire, and will advance an ethnically and culturally inclusive health and human services workforce, with improved diversity and higher wages. These programs will target students such as those in CalWORKs welfare to work.

Safety Net Reserve

The budget provides no increase in the safety net reserve, maintaining a $900 million level. While this amount represents an important safeguard against Medi-Cal and CalWORKs program reductions in lean budget years, the continuing growth in spending in both programs might require additional funds to preserve the effectiveness of the reserve.

Child Support Pass Through

The governor is proposing a major change to child support rules by allowing all child support paid by non-custodial parents to go to families formerly receiving CalWORKs or Medi-Cal. For decades it has been state policy for the state to retain any child support for the state to pay off the cost of providing welfare and medical benefits. In short, the state has reimbursed itself and made the families live with less income. When fully implemented, these families are estimated to receive an additional $187 million. While the idea of passing through all child support is certainly welcome, it is notable that the administration is proposing to do this only for families no longer receiving government assistance. The governor chose not to allow a 100 percent pass through to families currently on aid. The legislature may wish to consider expanding this proposal to pass through all child support to all families.

SSI/SSP Grants

The administration did not propose an increase in the SSI/SSP grants for 2022-23 budget, citing last year’s agreement to a two-step increase in SSP funding to restore grant cuts made by the state in the 2010 and 2011 budgets. The first of these grant increases went into effect on January 1, 2022, and in conjunction with a federal cost of living increase for the SSI portion of the grant, SSI/SSP grant levels went from $954 a month up to $1,040 a month for a single individual. The second step of grant increases is set to go into effect in January 2024.

In 2018, the legislature and then Governor Brown agreed to provide a state cost of living adjustment on the SSP portion of the grant beginning in January 2023. While that agreement is subject to funding in the budget, the administration chose not to include it in the January budget. As it currently stands, SSI recipients would not see any increased state funding for two years. The legislature may wish to consider whether to accelerate the second SSP increase to 2023 or to provide a cost-of-living adjustment.

Home Visiting

The administration proposes to increase funding for Home Visiting by $50 million ongoing for the Department of Public Health (CDPH) to expand the California Home Visiting Program and the California Black Infant Health Program, serving approximately 6,000 additional families over five years on top of 3,700 currently served by the Home Visiting Program and 1,650 served by the Black Infant Health Program. The administration does not propose increased funding for the CalWORKs Home Visiting program, which was cut in 2020 during the early days of the pandemic. The budget proposes greater flexibility for home visiting models offered to meet the diverse needs of families across the state, expands home visiting services to additional counties, and makes them accessible to families with the highest need. Additionally, this proposal will support early literacy by including books and early literacy programming provided by home visitors, and will be further supported by a $350 million General Fund investment to recruit, train, and certify new community health workers.

Earned Income Tax Credit

The administration is proposing to allow families with zero reported income to be eligible for the $1,000 state child tax credit so long as the family would otherwise be eligible. The concept of a zero-earnings tax credit potentially opens the door for allowing people receiving SSI, SSDI, and Social Security to get the same state assistance that families receive from the state EITC and Child Tax Credit.

Civil Assessments

The administration is proposing to reduce the impact of fines and fees on low-income Californians by reducing civil assessments from a maximum of $300 to a cap of $150. Civil assessments are imposed on people in criminal and traffic courts when they fail to appear for a hearing, or they fail to pay a fine in a timely fashion. Legal service advocates tell us that many clients receive multiple civil assessments that increase the amount they owe and make it even harder to pay court ordered fines and fees. While this proposal goes part way in meeting the goals of legislators and advocates, as proposed, civil assessments would still impact Californians with the lowest incomes most, and leaves open the question of whether retroactive civil assessment debts would continue to be subject to collection.

California Food Assistance Program

The administration proposes phasing in the expansion the California Food Assistance Program to all Californians ages 55 and older, regardless of immigration status. This year’s budget proposal includes $35.2 million for initial planning phases of the expansion and allocates $113.4 million annually starting in the 2025-26 budget year for the full expansion.

Golden State Stimulus/Grants

The administration chose not to provide another round of pandemic stimulus payments. These payments, which went out to low- and moderate-income households, were instrumental in allowing families and individuals to absorb some of the costs of the pandemic and to give breathing room in household budgets. The grants were also a method for the state to reduce state expenditures below the Gann Limit, which caps the amount the state budget can increase from year to year. The governor noted in his press conference that the door is not closed on this and it may be under consideration for the May Revise.

For questions, contact:

  • Public Benefits/ Access to Justice: Michael Herald, Director of Policy Advocacy – mherald[at]wclp.org
  • Food Access: Christopher Sanchez, Policy Advocate – csanchez[at]wclp.org
  • Health Care: Jen Flory, Policy Advocate – jflory[at]wclp.org; Linda Nguy, Policy Advocate – lnguy[at]wclp.org
  • Housing: Cynthia Castillo, Policy Advocate – ccastillo[at]wclp.org; Tina Rosales, Policy Advocate – trosales[at]wclp.org

PRESS RELEASE: After Lawsuit, San Bernardino County Removes Barriers to Cash Aid for Residents in Extreme Poverty

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

The county has agreed to implement several policy changes to make General Relief easier to access in the settlement of a 2019 lawsuit

SAN BERNARDINO – A settlement has been reached in a lawsuit filed against San Bernardino County, resulting in several changes to the county’s General Relief program that will help more people in extreme poverty access vital financial assistance. General Relief is the program administered by California counties that provides cash assistance to adults who do not have any other income or resources to meet their basic needs.

The suit was filed on behalf of two county residents in December 2019 by Inland Counties Legal Services, Western Center on Law & Poverty, and Public Interest Law Project. At the time, San Bernardino County had an extremely low number of General Relief recipients. Data from July 2018 through April 2019 shows the County denied 2057 out of 2245 applicants — nearly 92% of applicants.

The evidence indicated that the numbers were the result of the County’s unlawful restrictions on GR eligibility and onerous application process. The County also paid a much lower monthly grant than required by statute—a single individual could only receive a maximum of $280 per month. Among other restrictions, the County terminated benefits to homeless recipients who could not find housing within the first 30 days of getting benefits.

With the changes made by the County, Inland Counties Legal Services attorney Anthony Kim expects more residents will secure General Relief benefits and have an easier time maintaining them going forward.

“The people who need general assistance are often homeless and disenfranchised to the point where receiving any help is difficult, so these changes to the program are huge. The less hoops residents need to jump through, the easier it will be for them to get the assistance they need and are legally entitled to,” Kim said.

One of the biggest changes from the suit is the dollar increase in assistance, including annual increases over the next five years. The County has already increased the grant amount to $332 per month for an individual, and it will be $504 beginning in 2026.

The County’s Transitional Assistance Department, which administers the program, implemented several other significant changes in response to the lawsuit. They eliminated the requirement for applicants to attend an in-person orientation before applying for General Relief, and they began accepting applications online and via mail or drop box. They also eliminated the former policy of terminating General Relief to homeless recipients who did not secure housing within their first 30 days of receiving assistance.

“The dollar increase is significant for people who rely on this program, as is the increased ease of access,” said Richard Rothschild, Director of Litigation at Western Center on Law & Poverty. “$500  can make a big difference for someone experiencing homelessness. It’s a stepping stone for finding housing, getting a job, and becoming an integrated member of the community.

Other changes to the program include: paying full General Relief benefits amount to all eligible recipients regardless of housing status; paying General Relief benefits back to the date the person first applied; reducing the recertification requirements for people who receive General Relief; increasing the resource limits for cars and other vehicles, especially for people who use their vehicles for shelter; providing a pre-termination notice and an opportunity to appeal before ending someone’s benefits; and decreasing job search requirements for “employable” recipients from 20 contacts a week to 10.

“This is an incredible victory for people in San Bernardino County,” said Melissa A. Morris, Staff Attorney at Public Interest Law Project. “These systemic changes to the County’s General Relief program will potentially benefit thousands of low-income people throughout San Bernardino County, and we appreciate the County’s willingness to work with us to make these improvements.”

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PRESS RELEASE: LA County Sued for Failing to Provide Timely Emergency Food Assistance to Eligible Households

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Lawsuit accuses county of violating state and federal laws mandating expedited processing of CalFresh food benefits

LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles County fails to comply with California’s requirement that counties expedite the processing of urgent applications for CalFresh (formerly known as food stamps). The neediest CalFresh applicants – those whose income is less than $150 per month and who have less than $100 in resources, or whose housing costs are more than their income and resources — are entitled to have their applications processed within three days. But in Los Angeles, thousands of vulnerable households are going hungry each month because the county fails to process their applications on time.

Now, two organizations fighting hunger in Los Angeles and one CalFresh recipient who had to wait over a month for CalFresh when he and his father had no money for food are suing the county, demanding that it comply with its obligation to grant expedited access to critical food benefits.

The lawsuit—filed Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court by Hunger Action Los Angeles, Los Angeles Community Action Network (LACAN), and Peter Torres-Gutierrez —includes data showing the county has been in violation of both state and federal law for months. Federal law mandates that expedited food assistance benefits be provided in no more than seven days, and California sets the limit for urgent applications at three days.

“CalFresh is our first and best line of defense against hunger; if it doesn’t function properly thousands can be left with no means to get basic food,” said Frank Tamborello, Executive Director at Hunger Action Los Angeles. “When someone is hungry, every hour matters. It’s unconscionable that in Los Angeles County, the most vulnerable people have to wait for weeks to get access to something as basic as food assistance.”

“Hunger is real, and it has gotten worse during the pandemic,” said Todd Cunningham, Food and Wellness Organizer with Los Angeles Community Action Network (LACAN). “These county delays make it harder for people—especially houseless people—to access food and take care of their health.”

In September 2021, the county failed to meet the state’s three-day timeline for nearly one-third of all eligible applicants, leaving over 4,900 individuals and families who qualify for expedited benefits without access to CalFresh. In August, the numbers were even worse: the county left more than half of eligible households without access to CalFresh, forcing over 7,600 individuals and families to go hungry. Over the last year, the County has violated its duty to more than 54,000 households, forcing some applicants to wait more than a month to receive emergency food assistance.

“This is the county’s self-reported data, and it’s staggering,” said Western Center on Law & Poverty attorney Alex Prieto. “Each time the county fails to process an application on time, it puts people in danger of hunger and pushes parents into a devastating struggle to provide for their children’s most basic needs.”

“The harms that result when people—especially children—go hungry are significant and far-reaching. Even short periods of hunger can have profound and long-lasting effects on an individual’s physical and mental health,” said Lena Silver, an attorney with Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County (NLSLA). “People who are eligible for expedited service CalFresh are already in desperate financial situations. We are bringing this lawsuit to force the County to comply with the law, to ensure that every eligible individual and family gets the food they need when they need it – and not a minute later.”

Read the full complaint here.

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Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County (NLSLA) is a steadfast advocate for individuals, families, and communities throughout Los Angeles County.   Each year NLSLA provides free assistance to more than 100,000 people through innovative projects that address the most critical needs of people living in poverty. Through a combination of individual representation, high impact litigation and public policy advocacy, NLSLA combats the immediate and long-lasting effects of poverty and expands access to health, opportunity, and justice in Los Angeles’ diverse neighborhoods.

Public Interest Law Project (PILP) advances justice for low-income people and communities by building the capacity of legal services organizations through impact litigation, trainings, and publications, and by advocating for low-income community groups and individuals.

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.

 

 

 

PRESS RELEASE: Latinx Parents Sue to Stop Discrimination by Harbor Regional Center when serving People with Developmental Disabilities

For Immediate Release

Latinx families already get fewer services than white families and are hit harder by closure of schools and day programs during the COVID pandemic.  

TORRANCE, CA—A group of Latinx families known as Padres Buscando el Cambio filed litigation to fight for more services for intellectually and developmentally disabled children and young adults who rely on Harbor Regional Center. The regional center, which has offices in Torrance and Long Beach, is supposed to provide respite services, one-to-one aides, in-home supports, day programs and other services to adults and children with intellectual and developmental disabilities such as autism and cerebral palsy. The parent group is made up of families whose children’s needs have been long ignored.

During the pandemic, when schools and day programs closed, these children and their families were left with little to no help during the day. Members of Padres Buscando el Cambio say that they were overwhelmed and in need of more help from Harbor Regional Center before the pandemic. During the pandemic, Latinx families’ lack of equal access to regional center services became unbearable.

In addition to challenging the actions of Harbor Regional Center, the lawsuit also names the California Department of Developmental Services, which is responsible for ensuring its regional centers comply with the law.

Mayra Jimenez, the leader of Padres Buscando el Cambio, says: “Harbor [Regional Center] and the state do not seem to recognize how much our children are suffering, especially during the pandemic. For example, young people with autism are upset that they cannot go to school and need support coping with the changes. Families need help but instead the regional center insists on proof that the school denied us first. That takes time, and we need help now. They need to take an individual look at each child’s needs and approve services to make up for not only what was lost, but also the new challenges we face because of the pandemic. Also, Harbor makes us jump through so many hoops and procedures to get even a little help and overstressed families cannot cope.”

The inadequate COVID services for Latinx families also make existing service inequities worse. Harbor Regional Center spends only 37 cents on Latinx individuals for every dollar it spends on white individuals. As a recipient of state funds, Harbor Regional Center’s actions are not only unfair, they are also illegal, according to the group.

“There is no justification for the way Latinx families at Harbor Regional Center are treated,” said David Kane, an attorney for Western Center on Law & Poverty. “Regional Centers like Harbor are mandated by the state to provide the kind of care these families are asking for. It’s bad enough they must fight to receive services — the racial discrimination takes the urgency of the situation to another level. This needs to be addressed ASAP.”

Latinx parents seeking help for their children from Harbor Regional Center also faced explicitly discriminatory comments from regional center staff. For example, when requesting more services or service hours for their children, service coordinators sometimes chastised parents with comments including, “It was your decision to have so many kids,” and “It is a parent’s responsibility to care for her own child.”

Citing unanswered requests issued months ago, the parent group first demanded that Harbor Regional Center – and then the California Department of Developmental Services – take urgent, corrective action to avoid a lawsuit. When these demands were not addressed, the group was forced to file its lawsuit.

Parisa Ijadi-Maghsoodi, Senior Attorney with Disability Rights California, agrees. “There is no denying that disabled people and their families are hurting, and that Harbor Regional Center and the Department of Developmental Services have a legal obligation to meet their individualized needs throughout this pandemic and beyond. We remain hopeful that the regional center and the state will recognize this suffering and work with us to develop a comprehensive approach to service delivery that meets the needs of the Latinx community.”

Contact: Courtney McKinney, cmckinney[at]wclp.org 

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Disability Rights California (DRC) – Is the agency designated under federal law to protect and advocate for the rights of Californians with disabilities. View a full copy of the complaint: https://www.disabilityrightsca.org/cases/pbc-v-hrc.

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.

Western Center’s 2021 Legislative Wrap-Up 

The  2021 California legislative season is over, and Governor Newsom has signed the bills that will become law. Many Western Center priorities made it past the governor’s pen, including groundbreaking legislation like SB 62, which makes California an international leader in the fight to end exploitation of people working in the garment industry, and SB 65, which implements proven interventions to lower California’s unacceptably high mortality rate for Black and Indigenous people who give birth here. 

Below is our slate of co-sponsored bills that were signed by the governor this year, as well as those we plan to bring back next year.


HIGHLIGHTS

SB 62 – The Garment Worker Protection Act seeks to end wage theft in the California garment industry and ensure decent wages for California garment workers by holding California fashion brands to a higher standard of responsibility for the labor of garment workers.  

SB 65 – The California Momnibus is an innovative and comprehensive piece of legislation that reimagines perinatal care in order to close existing racial gaps in maternal and infant mortality and morbidity within the state. 


FINANCIAL SECURITY

AB 461 – CalWORKs Self Employment: Creates a more accessible pathway for CalWORKs recipients to choose self-employment as a work activity. This bill is timely as the state begins to rebuild its economy, which will heavily rely on the talents and creativity of Californians with an entrepreneurial spirit. 


HEALTH

AB 326 – Removes the sunset clause to permanently extend the Consumer Protection Program, which awards advocacy fees to any person or organization that represents the interests of consumers and has made a substantial contribution on regulations, orders, or decisions, within the Department of Managed Health Care.

AB 1020 – Enforcement of the Hospital Fair Pricing Act: We hope that passage of this bill means patients no longer need lawyers to benefit from the Hospital Fair Pricing Act. This bill rose directly out of our legal services partners’ experience in trying to enforce the Hospital Fair Pricing Act. Major components include prohibiting hospitals from selling debt to debt buyers unless they meet all the current standards applicable to debt collectors and agree to take a bill back if the patient should have gotten financial assistance, Medi-Cal, or another payor for their bill; requiring debt collectors and debt buyers to also send patients applications for financial assistance; and increasing eligibility for patients for financial assistance from 350% of the poverty level to 400%.

AB 1355 (2-Year Bill Extending Into Next Year) – Expands Independent Medical Reviews to all Medi-Cal beneficiaries to ensure more beneficiaries can access medically necessary care. Also improves the state’s fair hearing process. 

SB 644 (2-Year Bill Extending Into Next Year) – Allows California’s unemployment department to share information with Covered California when someone applies for or loses benefits to help individuals apply for Covered California or Medi-Cal.


HOUSING

AB 832 – Extended the temporary halt on evictions for nonpayment of rent until September 31, 2021. The bill also created additional tenant protections in court that may halt an eviction if the tenant qualifies and has an approved application for rent relief. For more information, please refer to our COVID-19 tenant relief fact sheet. To apply for financial assistance please visit housingiskey.com.

AB 838 – Enforcement Response to Housing Complaints: Prohibits local code inspection agencies in California from implementing restrictions or preconditions before responding to tenant habitability complaints. The bill specifically prohibits code enforcement agencies from refusing to inspect a unit based on unreasonable conditions, including on the basis that the tenant is behind on rent, is alleged to be in violation of their lease, or is currently in an unlawful detainer (eviction) or other legal dispute with the landlord.

AB 1304 – Affirmatively Further Fair Housing: Strengthens requirements for cities and counties to analyze and proactively address fair housing issues as part of their obligation to affirmatively further fair housing. The bill requires the housing element to include an analysis of how the jurisdiction’s inventory of housing affirmatively furthers fair housing; requires that in assessing contributing factors to fair housing issues, jurisdictions look through both a local and a regional lens, take race into account, and examine historical context; and requires jurisdictions to state explicit goals, objectives, and policies related to affirmatively furthering fair housing. 

SB 91 – Expanded protections provided by AB 3088 (2020) and established a statewide rental relief program that pays up to 100% of arrears, prospective rent, and utilities for households experiencing COVID-19 financial hardships. The bill also extended a temporary halt on evictions for nonpayment of rent until June 2021. SB 91 prohibited landlords from charging or attempting to charge late fees and explicitly prohibits the sale or assignment of any unpaid COVID-19 rental debt. 

Meet Western Center’s Newest Staff & Fellow!

We are thrilled to welcome Lorraine López, Kathryn Evans, and Abraham Zavala to Western Center’s staff! We are also excited to have Liv Williams on board with us for the next year as the Social Impact Pro Bono Fellow from the law firm of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP.


Lorraine López, Western Center’s newest Senior Attorney, is based in Los Angeles and works on housing and tenants’ rights. Lorraine is a Chicago native and has worked on tenants’ rights issues since 2005. Lorraine was formerly a Supervising Staff Attorney for the Homelessness Prevention Law Project at Public Counsel. Prior to joining Public Counsel, Lorraine was a Supervising Attorney for the Coordinated Attorney Team at Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County (“NLSLA”), where she led a team of 10+ attorneys practicing a wide range of poverty law areas including housing, consumer rights, public benefits, homelessness prevention, re-entry and family law. Lorraine was previously a Supervising Attorney at Inner City Law Center (“ICLC”) with their Homelessness Prevention Project.

Lorraine began her legal career in 2005 as an Equal Justice Works fellow at the Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago (now LAF) where she provided legal representation, community legal education, and outreach programs for participants in the Housing Choice Voucher Program. In 2007, she moved to Los Angeles to work for Eviction Defense Network (EDN).


Kathryn Evans is Western Center’s new Associate Director of Individual Giving, based in Los Angeles. Kathryn supports a dynamic donor engagement program that allows individuals to invest in and advance the mission of Western Center. Prior to joining Western Center in 2021, she was a Senior Community Relationship Manager at the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, Development and Museum Manager at the Santa Monica History Museum, and held various fundraising roles at Planned Parenthood Los Angeles.

Kathryn holds a Bachelor of Arts in History from San Jose State University and a Master of Public Policy from the University of Southern California.

 


Abraham Zavala is Western Center’s first Outreach and Advocacy Associate, also based in Los Angeles. Abraham supports Western Center’s advocacy and community outreach initiatives, with an emphasis on anti-hunger and food justice work.

Abraham was born and raised in East Los Angeles, and grew up in an immigrant family where community activism was centered. He received his BA in History from UC Berkeley in 2010, and subsequently worked as a U.S. History teacher in South Central Los Angeles. In 2016, after gaining labor organizing experience with fast food workers fighting for a minimum wage, he joined organizing efforts for a policy campaign with street vendors in the City of Los Angeles to legalize street vending. Most recently, he mobilized tenants who were being evicted and helped the community pass several housing policies in Long Beach.


Liv Williams is the Social Impact Pro Bono Fellow from the law firm of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP, and will be working with us here at Western Center for the next year. Liv graduated from Berkeley Law this year, where she participated in the Policy Advocacy Clinic, working on legislative efforts to eliminate criminal fees. In law school she was also a Student Director for the Workers’ Rights Clinic and a Supervising Editor of the California Law Review.

Prior to law school, Liv completed a year of AmeriCorps and worked for the government in Washington, D.C., and received her undergraduate degree at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.

JOINT STATEMENT: Bill Sponsors for Homelessness Prevention Fund Disappointed with Governor Newsom’s Veto, Resolved to Pass Through Budget Process

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

With strong votes in the legislature and the Governor’s general support, tenant advocates will continue to push for a legal defense fund for tenants experiencing eviction.  

As sponsors of AB 1487, we are disappointed that the Governor has vetoed the bill, which would establish a Homelessness Prevention Fund at the state level. The lack of legal representation for California tenants experiencing eviction is a fundamental fuel for economic and racial inequality. If the state is truly interested in achieving equity, there is no other option but to address this need, which was a problem well before the pandemic. However, we recognize that the reason for the veto was the lack of a specific budget appropriation, and we are glad the Governor’s message recognizes the importance of delivering eviction prevention services to struggling tenants in the most effective, efficient, and successful way possible.

AB 1487 recognizes the need to take a preventative approach to evictions and acknowledges the need for tenants to be represented by counsel. We look forward to continuing our efforts to build on lessons learned in delivering eviction prevention services, and to ensure that state resources dedicated to this purpose are delivered with a recognition of the needs and lived experience of struggling renters. We are proud to have advanced AB 1487 through both houses of the legislature with a strong endorsement of the policy and the ongoing need it seeks to address, and we thank Assembly member Gabriel for his strong leadership in authoring this bill.

The need for increased resources and enhanced delivery of services in preventing avoidable evictions is long-standing, and the COVID-19 pandemic has made it especially clear. The eviction process in California and the protections our state has chosen to put in place for tenants are complex, operate on very short timelines, and have extreme consequences for those forced to navigate them without assistance. While landlords overwhelmingly have the benefit of an attorney in evictions, the vast majority of tenants do not, forcing them to do their best to assert their rights, respond to court documents, and participate in the process on their own. 

This situation pre-dates the pandemic, and the need to address the dynamic is made clearer by the reality that millions of tenants who are behind on rent, through no fault of their own, are currently navigating a complex set of court protections and doing their best to apply for rental assistance at the same time. Outreach and education, coupled with legal assistance when problems arise, is incredibly important as millions of tenants navigate these unnecessarily complex systems or face the prospect of homelessness. 

Measures like AB 1487 are preventative medicine for California’s housing crisis, and we must recognize that the best way to prevent evictions is to utilize the strength of community-based outreach organizations, legal service providers, and local governments so tenants and landlords are aware of their rights and responsibilities and can successfully resolve issues before they lead to eviction. 

We need a permanent solution to ensure every Californian has the resources and support they need to remain housed and prevent homelessness as they navigate the complex eviction system. AB 1487 would ensure that the protections California’s Legislature and administration put in place translate to real, enforceable rights. We look forward to working with the Legislature and Governor in the coming year to make sure renters across the state can successfully assert their rights, and that California communities benefit from the increased housing security and stability a Homelessness Prevention Fund can provide.

Thank you to the many coalition partners and allies across the state that led and contributed to this campaign. Over 80 organizations endorsed the bill.  

 

Press‌ ‌Contact:‌ ‌ ‌Sasha Harnden,‌ ‌Public Policy Advocate,‌ ‌Inner City Law Center,‌ aharnden[at]innercitylaw.org – (habla español)

PRESS RELEASE: Co-Sponsors Respond to Signing of The California Momnibus Act (SB 65) into Law

For Immediate Release

SB 65 Secures California’s Position as a Leader in the Movement to Improve Pregnancy and Birthing Outcomes

SacramentoToday, Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law SB 65 (Skinner), The California Momnibus Act, marking a significant victory for maternal and infant health in California. The California Momnibus is an innovative and comprehensive piece of legislation that reimagines perinatal care in order to close the existing racial gaps in maternal and infant mortality and morbidity within the state. 

The California Momnibus Act sponsors applaud Governor Newsom for taking this pivotal step towards ensuring that birthing people and their families are supported in their birthing experience. A report released earlier this month by the Maternal and Child Health Division of the California Department of Public Health revealed that the pregnancy-related mortality ratio for Black women was four to six times greater than that of other racial and ethnic groups, indicating a widening disparity. Although California has reduced maternal mortality rates over the past 30 years, mortality and morbidity for Black and Indigenous/Native American pregnant people, women, and infants remain markedly higher than the state’s average.

Said Sen. Skinner, who is the principal author of SB 65 and vice chair of the Legislative Women’s Caucus: 

“Despite our medical advances, more U.S. babies and mothers die during birth than in all other high-income countries, and these preventable deaths are disproportionately higher for black families. This is unacceptable. I was so honored to Author SB 65, and to work with the Momnibus Coalition. Its passage will help close racial disparities in maternal and infant deaths and save lives.”

Said Nourbese Flint, Executive Director of Black Women for Wellness Action Project:

“California has led the charge when it comes to tackling maternal deaths and severe injury due to pregnancy in the country. But we know there is a long way to go, particularly when it comes to tackling the egregious death rates of Black mommas. With this signature, California takes a huge step in reimagining maternal care for our most vulnerable pregnant folk while setting the bar for the rest of the country. We can’t thank the Governor, Sen. Skinner, and her staff enough, as well as the broader legislature for investing in pregnant folks and babies.”

Said Amy Chen, Senior Attorney at the National Health Law Program:

“The California Momnibus tackles head-on some of the most pressing maternal and infant health disparities in our state, particularly for Black, Indigenous, and other people of color NHeLP is grateful to have been part of the statewide coalition that came together to push for its passage. We now stand ready to roll up our sleeves and work in partnership with the state agencies and community stakeholders to ensure smooth implementation of all parts of the bill,”

Said Jen Flory, Policy Advocate, Western Center on Law & Poverty:

“We are thankful to the Governor for recognizing the need for California to face its Black maternal health crisis head-on. It’s not enough to identify the deep inequalities that created this crisis. By passing the California Momnibus bill, our state is making a down payment on the investment needed to correct the disparities Black and Indigenous birthing people have faced for too long. We are also thankful to all of the organizations, individuals, and legislative members that have led in this space to reimagine what joyous birth should look like.” 

Said Shannon Olivieri Hovis, Director, NARAL Pro-Choice California:

“It has never been more critical for California to improve birth outcomes and close the state’s persistently high racial disparities in maternal and infant mortality and morbidity, especially for Black and Indigenous pregnant people. On behalf of NARAL Pro-Choice California and our 295,000 members, we are thrilled to see Governor Newsom prioritize birth equity today by signing SB 65 into law. Despite attacks on reproductive freedom across the country, California is continuing to lead the nation in maternal health and work toward a future where every body can access the care they need—no matter their income level, race, gender identity, sexual orientation, or where they live or work.”

Said Holly Smith, CNM, MPH, FACNM, Health Policy Chair of the California Nurse-Midwives Association:

The pandemic affected families and birthing people in both predictable and unpredictable ways, and especially laid bare the health care inequities that exist for Black birthing people, indigenous people, and people of color. SB 65 directly addresses these issues in an innovative and multi-faceted way. On behalf of the members of the California Nurse-Midwives Association, we give credit to the selfless co-sponsors and coalition partners who put so much time and effort into this bill, to Senator Skinner and the co-authors who brought SB 65 to life and saw the value each section of the bill brings to improving maternal and infant outcomes, and to Governor Newsom and the First Partner for seeing the need and making this a reality (and a first in the nation!). We are eternally grateful.”

Said Stacey Brayboy, Sr. Vice President, Public Policy and Government Affairs for the March of Dimes: 

“The March of Dimes applauds the adoption of this critical legislation and the full breadth of maternal health reforms California has enacted this year. Sen. Skinner and her colleagues in the legislature have demonstrated vision and leadership by raising up the inequities endured by BIPOC mothers and infants and ensuring the state is taking bold steps to close the gap in outcomes. I want to further thank Governor Newsom for his support of these initiatives and his ongoing commitment to realizing the changes we need to ensure all mothers and babies have a healthy strong start.”

Said Felisa Vallejo, Solis Policy Institute Fellow with Women’s Foundation California:

“Today’s win is about reimagining birthing and pregnancy in California. This bill protects new Black and Indigenous life and honors the ability of all genders to give birth – an investment and recognition that’s necessary across the country. We thank the organizations, individuals, legislators, and Governor Newsom for giving life to birthing and pregnancy health for all Californians.” 

Earlier this summer, Gov. Newsom signaled California’s commitment to improving maternal health outcomes by incorporating critical components of the original parts of SB 65 into California’s final budget for 2021-2022. This means: doula services and extended postpartum coverage are included as Medi-Cal benefits; an increase in the CalWORKS supplement for pregnant people; and a guaranteed income pilot that prioritizes pregnant people will soon be a reality for a large swath of Californians. Although maternal health enjoyed significant wins through California’s budget this year, critical steps to achieve equity remain. The sponsors are thrilled that Gov. Newsom continues to see this commitment by signing groundbreaking legislation into law. 

Background on SB 65

Through meaningful and responsive interventions, SB 65 addresses the maternal mortality crisis in California and advances equity in birthing outcomes by:

  • Codifying and expanding California’s Pregnancy-Associated Mortality Review Committee to investigate maternal mortality and morbidity with a mandate to look specifically at racial and socioeconomic disparities; queer, trans, and gender non-conforming birthing outcomes, and make recommendations for best practices to reduce maternal and infant mortality and morbidity;
  • Updating data collection and protocols for counties that participate in the Fetal and Infant Mortality Review Process;
  • Clarifying that pregnant people are exempt from CalWORKS welfare-to-work requirements; and
  • Building the midwifery workforce by establishing a fund for midwife training programs that meet the priorities of admitting underrepresented groups and those from underserved communities, or prioritize training and placement of graduates in California’s maternity care deserts. 

SB 65 is sponsored by Black Women for Wellness Action Project, The California Nurse Midwives Association, March of Dimes, National Health Law Program, NARAL Pro-Choice California, Western Center on Law and Poverty, Women’s Foundation of California Dr. Beatriz María Solís Policy Institute, and supported by over 70 health, rights, and justice organizations across California and the country.

Contact: cmckinney[at]wclp.org

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JOINT STATEMENT: California budget invests in pregnancy and birthing health; Momnibus bill can go further to address adverse birth outcomes in CA

The final 2021-22 California budget includes significant investments in new parent and infant health, many of which were part of SB 65 (Skinner), California’s Momnibus bill. While the progress made in the budget is substantial, SB 65 is still needed, as it contains additional provisions to reduce negative birth outcomes in our state. All of these comprehensive services, in the budget and in SB 65, are needed to address the disproportionate health disparities facing Black and Indigenous new parents and babies in California. 

We are excited that significant pieces of SB 65 are in the final budget. The following changes will be ground breaking for many families in California: 

  • A guaranteed income pilot program that prioritizes pregnant Californians.
  • Medi-Cal coverage for doula services, regardless of immigration status.
  • Earlier access to CalWORKs for pregnant people.
  • An increase in the CalWORKs pregnancy supplement.
  • Extended Medi-Cal eligibility for postpartum people.

“I’m very proud this year’s state budget includes funding to expand CalWORKs and Medi-Cal pre and postpartum services, key components of SB 65, the California Momnibus Act,” said Sen. Skinner, chair of California’s Senate Budget Committee. “These essential investments will help reduce the unacceptably high rates of maternal and infant mortality among Black and Indigenous pregnant people and their babies. I’m also pleased California is launching the first-of-its-kind guaranteed basic income pilot program prioritizing support to pregnant people. While there’s more to do, passing the remaining parts of SB 65 will help with additional measures to reduce birthing disparities.”

The budget investments mark significant progress, but California must go further to address its disparate birthing outcomes.

As the bill moves forward in the legislative process, we continue to push for:

  • Freedom from Welfare to Work restrictions for pregnant people on CalWORKs.
  • Birth data on lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and gender-nonconforming pregnant people in California.
  • Additional housing assistance for pregnant households.
  • State oversight of the Pregnancy Associated Review Committee investigating maternal death.
  • Updates to the Fetal Infant Mortality Review process to better collect information and prevent future infant deaths.
  • A midwifery training fund.

We appreciate our coalition’s continued support and Senator Skinner’s steadfast leadership as the bill heads to the Assembly Appropriations Committee in August, then on to the Assembly floor.