L.A. County pays millions to homeless
Christina Villacorte, Staff Writer
Created: 04/20/2011 09:06:26 PM PDT

Faced with the prospect of further budget cutbacks, two Los Angeles County supervisors who represent Inland Valley cities proposed a new plan this week to control the rapid growth of welfare payments to the poor.

Supervisors Don Knabe and Michael Antonovich proposed a motion to reduce the cost of administering the state-mandated but county-funded general relief program.

The program provides payments of $221 a month to indigent single adults – mostly the homeless – who have no source of income and who do not qualify for any other state or federal benefits.

Amid the weak national economy, the program’s caseload has skyrocketed by 80 percent over the past five years, costing the county $257 million this year.

Antonovich noted that the county’s general relief caseload is more than 80 times larger than those of Riverside, San Bernardino and Orange counties combined.

“Although Los Angeles County constitutes one-third of the state’s population, we are shouldering 71 percent of the state’s general-relief participants,” said Antonovich, who represents Claremont, San Dimas and La Verne. “If we continue this trend, it will have a devastating effect on our ability to provide quality services.”

General-relief recipients can now receive cash for nine months a year, on the condition that they participate in programs that would lead to them either getting a job or disability benefits from the federal government.

Knabe and Antonovich directed the county’s chief executive officer and public services director to consider providing housing vouchers instead of cash, and to look at ways to crack down on enforcement of the program’s eligibility rules.

For example, they want to look at more limits on property and asset ownership to qualify and more documentation to prove residency in Los Angeles County.

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