An applicant signs up for food stamps, known as CalFresh in California. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters

The Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to remove barriers that keep eligible residents from enrolling in county aid programs.

During a lengthy Tuesday meeting that stretched late into the night, supervisors voted in favor of a proposal by Supervisors Terra Lawson-Remer and Nora Vargas to end “Project 100%,” a policy that requires anyone applying for CalWORKs to agree to a home inspection.

Many eligible residents considered it an intrusive requirement that can serve as a disincentive to apply, Lawson-Remer said.

The board also voted to create a task force under the Social Services Advisory Board that will review enrollment hurdles to increase participation in state programs such as CalFresh, CalWORKS, Medi-Cal and county General Relief.

With help from a consultant, the task force will seek input from local health and human services experts.

Supervisors will receive monthly task force updates and receive final recommendations no later than Dec. 7. Any funding for a consultant will need board approval.

Lawson-Remer said the proposals were part of her “Make the County Work for All” effort.

“We want people to come to the county when they need help, not be scared away because programs are confusing or intrusive,” she said. “The public pays for these programs with the expectation that they will be accessible to the people most in need in our community, but there are many eligible residents of San Diego who are hesitant to use these services.”

“We need to do even more to understand why and reach out to vulnerable communities in their time of need. For years, those seeking help have been treated as less than deserving but these programs really are meant to support individuals and families when we are in greatest need,” Lawson-Remer said.

Vargas, the board’s vice chair, said that in the midst of a global pandemic, “now more than ever we have a moral obligation to remove barriers and ensure that those in need have access to county services.”

“Instead, we must work collectively to empower individuals to thrive as healthy, self-sufficient and contributing members of our communities,” she said.

According to Lawson-Remer’s office, a January report released by the California Policy Lab found that paperwork is often a barrier to families remaining on CalFresh, California’s Food Stamp Program.

When families have to verify on a shorter timeline of three to six months, they are more likely to fall off these critical benefit programs, she said.

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