Kevin

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Kevin was at the office trying to resolve an issue with his CalFresh. Kevin had previously closed his case with the County because he was hoping to receive SSI benefits. However, he was unable to successfully apply for SSI, and thus had to re-apply for CalFresh again.

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Location: Southwest Special
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David

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David is a long-time resident of Skid Row.  He has struggled for years to keep himself sheltered and off the streets.  When we caught up with David at the office, he was trying to resolve an issue regarding his General Relief.

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Location: Civic Center
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Robert

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Robert was just released from state prison after serving 15 years for a drug-related felony.  Although his original sentence was 25 years to life, the passage of Proposition 36 in 2012 allowed Robert to apply for a lower sentence.  With nowhere and no one to turn to (and nothing but the clothes he received while in prison), Robert visited the DPSS in order to seek temporary relief as he searched for some form of stable employment.  However, due to a special set of rules that applies to people convicted of drug-related felonies, Robert was not eligible to receive CalFresh.  This meant that Robert’s only recourse for the time being is General Relief from the county.  Unlike CalFresh, which would usually be immediately accessible to homeless individuals such as Robert, General Relief kicks-in up to 30 days after initially applying.  In addition to having zero financial means, Robert also desperately sought some form of government-issued identification.  Robert no longer had a social security card, and the only form of identification he owned was the one he received while in prison.

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Location: Civic Center
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Donovan

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Although homeless, Donovan has rarely relied on cash aid from the county. Most recipients of General Relief (the aforementioned cash aid) must enroll in a welfare-to-work program called GROW (General Relief Opportunities for Work). Those enrolled in the program must attend a series of classes, as well as demonstrate to case workers that they are actively seeking employment. Donovan fears that the program will force him to accept certain employment opportunities whether or not he likes them. Nonetheless, Donovan applied for General Relief on the day we spoke with him. He said he wanted the cash aid in order to rent a temporary storage unit for his personal belongings. Donovan believes that using the cash aid to pay for a storage unit is the best investment he can make in lieu of affordable housing.  With access to a storage unit, Donovan said he can at least approach a job interview without having to carry all of his belongings with him.

➤ Read more on temporary storage units for the homeless in Los Angeles

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Location: Rancho Park
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Jose

Jose says he has been suffering from undiagnosed chronic pain for more than a decade. Until recently, however, Jose was labeled as “employable” by county physicians. Jose says that his disability has made it very difficult to maintain employment, despite the opinions of county physicians. Depending on the outcome of an upcoming appointment with a medical specialist (for which he has waited many months), Jose might finally gain a clearer idea about his condition, as well as his official employment status. Ideally, Jose would like to receive SSI (supplemental security income), as his current benefits are barely sufficing to meet his needs.

➤ Read more on the prevalence of disabilities among adults in Los Angeles County

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Location: Rancho Park
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Greg

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A long-time barber, Greg recently applied for General Relief in order to make ends meet each month. Greg was at the office in order to submit his QR-7, which is a mandatory quarterly reporting form that all recipients of General Relief must submit in order to maintain their benefits.

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Location: Metro Special
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Steven

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Steven was at the office escorting a fellow member in his recovery program. He pays for his membership in the program by using the cash aid he receives from General Relief. Despite having fallen on rough times, Steven hopes to fully recover and one day become a longshoreman.

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Location: Metro Special
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Mary

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Mary was at the office with her son, with whom she had recently reunited. Mary feared that she would lose assistance under the Section 8 program if her son continued living at her apartment. With nowhere else to go, Mary’s son had to request SRO vouchers in order to avoid homelessness.

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Location: Metro Special
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Aaron

Aaron was at the office in order to clarify why he had not been reimbursed for his unused hotel (i.e., single room occupancy) vouchers.  After speaking to a handful of case workers, Aaron’s attention was eventually drawn to a clause in the voucher agreement form which stipulated that the amount received for hotel vouchers would be withdrawn from a recipient’s General Relief whether or not the hotel vouchers were actually used. Aaron was visibly frustrated by this, as his previous case worker had not explained this to him. What’s more, Aaron’s case worker knew that he was illiterate.

➤ Read more on literacy rates in Los Angeles County

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Location: Southwest Special
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Kip

By the time we caught up with Kip, he’d been sitting in the waiting room for over 4 hours to see his case worker.  Kip was in the office in order to re-apply for General Relief.  Kip’s 9 months had expired during the previous year, and he’d been unsuccessful securing employment.

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Location: Southwest Special
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