San Diego's Safety Net: Riddled With Gaps
A voiceofsandiego.org investigation has found that the county government's historical resistance to provide social welfare programs has left a wide chasm between last-resort aid and those on the bottom rungs of economic survival.
Those gaps have left the sick like Quemuel to get sicker. They have locked applicants in months of bureaucratic and legal runaround. They have kept help out of the hands of professionals who've fallen on hard times during the recession. It has sometimes taken a judge's order to force the county to provide even a minimum level of help.
The state obligates counties to run aid programs including food stamps, welfare for families and medical help, and to provide care for adults who can't support themselves. But it has made profound cuts to the funding the counties get, leaving them to find a way to keep the programs running.
While other counties have embraced the charge to provide the services, San Diego County supervisors have rebelled against picking up the slack.
The elected officials have battled the state over the fine print of what they're obligated to provide. They've created such restrictive policies that courts have had to intervene. They've instituted some of the most far-reaching anti-fraud policies in the state.
And they make few apologies for it.