San Diego County will begin tossing nearly 2,000 able-bodied recipients off the rolls of its last-resort welfare program beginning Feb. 1, under a plan finalized Tuesday by the Board of Supervisors.
The board voted 5-0 to enact emergency cuts in the general relief welfare program, a decision expected to save the county $2.6 million during the fiscal year that ends June 30. Over a full fiscal year, the cuts will save the county $6.2 million, according to a report submitted to supervisors Tuesday.
Indigent adults without children who are ineligible for all other welfare programs currently qualify for the $291 monthly payments. About 20% are homeless.
In December, the board decided to limit recipients without physical or mental impairments to three months of benefits in every 12-month period. That decision means that 1,940 so-called "employables" will be eliminated from the caseload, which now numbers 6,282 people, beginning Feb. 1, as their cases come up for review.
Culling all of them from the rolls will take nearly three months, said Joan Zinser, deputy director of income maintenance programs for the county Department of Social Services.
Legal Aid lawyer Rosemary Bishop said Tuesday that her organization expects to sue the county "as soon as we see a client who has been affected" by the board's decision. Bishop said that the supervisors' vote directly conflicts with a 1971 court decision that prohibits removing all employable adults from the welfare program.
In December, the supervisors were told by county staff members that the change would eliminate about 2,700 recipients and save the county $3.4 million this fiscal year. Further analysis showed that the numbers were somewhat smaller, Zinser said.
The board also voted to support other changes in the state law governing welfare programs, including one that would allow the county to pay newcomers to the county the same benefits they would have received in their last place of residence.