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Meeting Information

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CalWORKs families have difficulty covering basic living expenses in large part because of the high cost of housing.  Some CalWORKs families teeter on the brink of homelessness and become vulnerable enough to qualify for CalWORKs permanent housing assistance. Some of these families which have received this one-time permanent housing assistance may remain extremely vulnerable for several months as they struggle in the wake of a significant financial setback, such as a lay-off, illness or death in the family, or other hardship. The alternative for some of these at-risk CalWORKs families is to try to find room at an emergency/transition shelter or other similar temporary group housing. Many of these at-risk CalWORKs families living in temporary shelters could successfully stabilize financially and avoid sliding back into homelessness if they could access a short-term work support to offset a fraction of their total monthly rent.  Moreover, such a short-term work support would have the effect of augmenting scarce shelter resources for other families by enabling some at-risk CalWORKs families to leave shelters sooner.      




The County of Los Angeles Department of Public Social Services (DPSS) surveyed, 373 CalWORKs participants applying for homeless assistance in February 2005.  61% of respondents indicated that the most frequent barrier to securing permanent housing was their inability to afford rent.  Almost 25% indicated that loss of employment was the main reason they became homeless.  44% indicated that just prior to becoming homeless they were struggling to pay their rent in non-subsidized housing.        


The State provides eligible CalWORKs families with a one-time benefit to secure or maintain permanent housing either in the form of last month rent and move in costs, or up to two months of back-rent to prevent eviction, up to a certain limit in either case.  But some families which receive this assistance continue to have serious difficulty keeping up with the high rent, particularly in areas likeLos Angeles County where the average rent is $1,200 a month for a basic two bedroom home or apartment. 


Some counties, such as Los Angeles County, have approval from the State to provide short-term rental subsidies with their Single Allocation funds to offset a portion of the total cost of rent for CalWORKs families. But such rental subsidies can only be provided for up to four months, which is an arbitrarily short time frame to expect many families’ income and housing situations to stabilize after the jolt of a temporary financial hardship. In addition, counties are hard-pressed to either begin or expand rental subsidy programs with Single Allocation funds given the many new demands on this funding to meet higher federal work participation rates. 




Introduce legislation proposing a three-year, statewide CalWORKs rental subsidy pilot for certain at-risk CalWORKs families exiting emergency/transition shelter or other similar temporary group housing. The pilot would be funded with CalWORKs Homeless Assistance dollars, limited to 4,500 slots per year, statewide, and include a research component to study the effectiveness of the pilot. Specifically, the legislation would propose adding the following subdivision to W&I Code Section 11450:


      (k) (1) The department shall establish a three-year statewide work support pilot program to alleviate housing instability for up to 4,500 families per year receiving aid under this chapter and who meet all eligibility criteria described in paragraph (2) of this subdivision.

            (2) A family aided under this chapter is considered eligible to participate in the pilot if they meet the following criteria: 

     (A) The individual is subject to the requirement to participate

 in welfare-to-work activities under this chapter pursuant to

Section 11320.3, and is not exempt from participation due to any

of the factors listed in subdivision (b) of Section 11320.3, or for

any other reason.

    (B) The individual is not subject to a sanction pursuant to

Section 11327.5.

    (C)Within the most recent two calendar months, the

 Individual/family resides or has exited emergency/transition shelter or other similar temporary group housing and has either received permanent homeless assistance pursuant to subparagraph (B) of paragraph (2) of subdivision (f), or would have otherwise been eligible for permanent homeless assistance, but for prior exhaustion of their lifetime eligibility to such assistance.

   (D) The county determines that the individual has a level of

 housing instability that threatens his or her ability to secure or

 retain a job pursuant to subparagraph (C).   

   (3) The work support provided pursuant to this subdivision

 shall be provided on a monthly basis as a payment directly to the

individual’s landlord, property management company, or other

appropriate individual or entity.  The work support shall not be

provided directly to the family except that a county may issue the

work support by means of a two-party check, were the recipient

is one of the two parties.  A county shall have the option of using

vouchers to provide the work support required by this


   (4) The work support shall be based on the size of the assistance unit, according to the following schedule: 

  (A) An assistance unit of two or fewer shall receive two

 hundred dollars ($200) per month. 

   (B) An assistance unit of three shall receive two hundred fifty

 dollars ($250) per month. 

  (C) An assistance unit of four or more shall receive three

 hundred dollars ($300) per month. 

  (D) The work support shall be provided for a period of no longer than 12

months, as long as the recipient continues to meet the criteria set

forth in subparagraphs (B) and (D) of paragraph (1). 

  (E) The provision of a work support pursuant to this

 subdivision shall not affect the assistance unit’s base grant and

shall not be calculated into the assistance unit’s income for

purposes of determining eligibility or grant levels for aid

provided under this chapter.  

  (5) While a welfare-to-work recipient is receiving assistance

pursuant to this chapter, the county welfare department shall

work with the recipient to develop a plan for stable housing after

assistance is no longer available to the recipient. 

  (6) The county welfare department shall report to the

department all data required by the department regarding

individuals who receive a work support pursuant to this


  (7) The work support pilot is to commence January 1, 2008 and end December 31, 2010, with an additional 24 additional months allowed for completion of a research study as described in paragraph (8)

  (8) The department shall direct the Welfare Policy Research Project to conduct a study to include short-term and longitudinal components evaluating the overall effectiveness of the pilot, evaluating outcomes for families receiving work support benefits during the pilot, and providing comparative analysis of outcomes for families across the state.      

  (9) Not withstanding Chapter 3.5 (commencing with Section

11340) of Part 1 of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Government Code,

the department may implement this subdivision by means of

all-county letters or similar instructions from the director,

followed by the subsequent adoption of regulations as soon as is





This work support pilot would be funded with State CalWORKs Homeless Assistance funds.  Since the pilot is limited to three years and would only include a maximum of 4,500 slots per year, the maximum annual cost for work support benefits is estimated to be $13.5 million per year.  This is based on an average rental subsidy of $250 per month for 12 months for each slot ($250 x 12 months x 4,500 slots).  Since the pilot would not commence until January 1, 2008, there would only be 6 months of benefit costs in FY 2007-08.  An additional $500,000 is estimated to cover the costs of the research study. 



Welfare advocacy organizations would likely support this measure.