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CFILC Issues

There's so much going on in our efforts for advocacy and the reactions of our communities, we hope this page helps to serve more information to let you know what it is that is currently happening. There's always an effort we're trying to push with issues, agenda, campaigns, political bill, events, and more.

CF Issues
December 5th, 2017 Petition to Save Net Neutrality

The ability to organize grassroots movements, whether locally or across the globe, is made possible by an open Internet. Since its creation, the Internet has become the world's megaphone for free speech, protected by the principles of Net Neutrality, which require internet service providers (ISPs) to give everyone equal access to everything you use the internet for -- email, watching videos, listening to music, or signing petitions on Change.org.

Without Net Neutrality, ISPs can choose what you see online, favoring some sources or blocking others. For example, if someone launched a petition on Change.org against a company like Verizon, Net Neutrality prevents Verizon from blocking or slowing their customers' access to our site. …

Continue reading more on Petition to Save Net Neutrality… CFILC Fact Sheet: AB 763 (Salas) Independent Living Center Funding July 19th, 2017 CFILC Letter of Support: AB 1665 (Garcia) Telecommunications: Internet for All Now Act April 10th, 2017 CFILC Letter of Opposition: American Health Care Act (AHCA) March 10th, 2017 See all Issues for CFILC…
Public Policy Perspectives
March 8th, 2018 • Henry J. Contreras, CFILC Public Policy Director
Is the Underfunding of the SSI/SSP Program a Major Cause of Growing Hunger and Homelessness in California?

News stories published throughout the state have exposed the tragic growth of hunger and homelessness in California. It impacts urban, rural, and suburban communities alike and, for the most part, nearly all of proposed public and private sector solutions have failed miserably.

A recent series of Los Angeles Times editorials argued that a vital part of any real solutions requires that the public change their perceptions about the causes and demographic profile of those living with hunger and homelessness. They wrote that common stereotypes about how people fall into extreme poverty fail to acknowledge that the core causes encompass much more than mental illness or substance abuse.

For example, it ignores the less visible, but more numerous, population of low-income and poor who are at-risk of being pushed into even deeper poverty due to economic circumstances. More and more people have been impacted by hard times, bad luck, or safety net program cutbacks that have widened the economic divide due to poor public policy decisions at all levels of government.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the Supplemental Security Income/State Supplementary Payment (SSI/SSP) Program. These grants are a critical source of basic income for over 1.2 million low-income people with disabilities and seniors aged 65 and older.

Since 2009, monthly grant cuts and the repeal of automatic statutory Cost-of-Living Adjustments (COLA) as part of the state share of the program have forced hardships and poverty for SSI/SSP recipients. Beginning in that year, the state-funded share of the monthly grants was reduced to the allowable Federal minimum of $233 to $156 for individuals and from $568 to $396 for couples.

In reality, rising costs of food and housing have substantially reduced the purchasing power of the grants. The only adjustment since 2009 was a one-time COLA in 2016-2017.

The then-existing $907 monthly grant in 2009 for individuals was worth 100.5 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). Today, the current $910.72 monthly grant is worth just 90 percent of the FPL which is set at $1,011.67 per month.

Accelerating the dive into deeper and deeper poverty for many recipients is the policy known as the "SSI Cash-Out." In exchange for a $10 monthly grant increase. SSI/SSP recipients were made ineligible for Food Stamps. California is the only state where recipients cannot receive this important food assistance…

Recipients also have less available income to keep pace with rising costs for housing. In fact, in every county the "Fair Market Rent" for a studio apartment exceeds 50 percent of the maximum SSI/SSP grant for an individual. Quite simply, recipients are at greater risk of homelessness whenever housing accounts for more than half of their household income.

The cumulative effect of the grant cuts, the SSI Cash-Out, and the statutory COLA repeal are substantially increasing hunger and homelessness. It is estimated that the cuts have pushed 1 million people into poverty and it is a major reason why California has the highest Supplemental Poverty Measure of any state.

Advocates are calling upon the Legislature to support state budget initiatives and legislation to raise the SSP grants by $100 per month and to restore the automatic COLA. However, while the Governor's Budget passes through the Federal SSI COLA to increase the maximum monthly grants by $20 for individuals and $30 for couples, there is no proposed increase in the state share.

Taking into account rising costs of living, this means that California is providing about $1.6 billion (about 40 percent) less for grants than it spent on the eve of the Great Recession in 2007-2008. This does not account for the 2 percent growth in enrollments since then.

The Governor's Budget characterizes this reduced spending as projected "savings." The challenge moving forward is that advocates and some legislators view this as making the recession-era grant cuts permanent. They vow to use part of his projected $7.5 billion budget surplus to increase the SSP share.

Thus, the public and the Legislature must decide whether "fiscal prudence" should override the need to assist SSI/SSP recipients avoid hunger and homelessness.

Thank you.

Henry J. Contreras
CFILC Public Policy Director

See all of Henry's Blogs on Public Policies…