Homeless and disabled residents of Kern County will now receive more money per month and will no longer be forced to jump through illegal hurdles before qualifying for aid.
Western Center filed suit in 2013 after receiving complaints that indigent residents were being forced to meet application requirements beyond what California law specifies.
This included having to provide free labor on public work projects, document the social security and tax identification numbers of roommates and landlords, and get the signatures from 10 businesses proving they had applied for a job, had interviewed and were qualified for the position.
“These are people who need aid immediately, who don’t have money for housing, food or clothes” said Bryant Y.F Yang, associate at Irell & Manella LLP in Los Angeles, who worked on the case pro bono. “It’s not reasonable to make them volunteer for projects at 6am in farflung areas of the county when public transportation doesn’t start until 8 am and they have no place to sleep or get food.”
As a result of the stringent requirements, only some 50 out of 1,500 eligible residents were successfully enrolled in the aid program. Those who did make the cut got too little and often could not receive the benefits.