The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) reminds counties that despite any changes to county operations because of COVID-19, families must be able to apply for Homeless Assistance benefits during normal business hours. Payment for temporary Homeless Assistance must be approved and issued, or denied, within the same day that the family applies. For permanent Homeless Assistance, the county must issue or deny payment within one business day of receiving all required information.
Families can receive the 16 days permanent Homeless Assistance in one lump sum if homelessness is because of a state or federally declared natural disaster. Counties can accept sworn statements as verification that Homeless Assistance funds were properly spent, or counties can grant good cause for not providing paper verification. Homeless Assistance applications are not required to be made in person or include a face-to-face interview. Counties can complete the application on behalf of the family and electronic signatures are allowed.
Until the end of the COVID-19 State of Emergency or Executive Order N-71-20 is rescinded, whichever is earlier, the county can accept verbal attestation if the county cannot accept, or the applicant cannot provide, and a physical or electronic signature.
Homeless Assistance payments must be issued to clients in the manner the client requests. The family can ask that payments go directly to the family or to providers of temporary housing, permanent housing or utilities. In the event of funds mismanagement, clients are still entitled to their Homeless Assistance benefits. Counties should consider issuing benefits on an EBT card if it is not possible to issue a vendor payment within the required timeframes if there is a mismanagement issue.
Families without mailing addresses who list the county office as their mailing address for their benefits must have timely access to their mail despite office closures or reduced hours. All clients, including those without residential mailing addresses, must get their Homeless Assistance withing the legal timeframes. (ACIN I-57-20, July 28, 2020.)