COVID-19 new interim homeless assistance program guidance

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has issued new guidance CalWORKs Homeless Assistance (HA) and COVID-19.  This new guidance supersedes CDSS’ March 19, 2020 All County Welfare Directors Letter for HA only.

Up to 16 days of motel vouchers are available from HA for eligible or apparently eligible CalWORKs participants.  Because of COVID-19, counties may waive the three-day limit to verify homelessness.  Counties may issue benefits in increments of more than one week, up to all 16 days at once.

Families should be granted good cause for not completing daily permanent housing search.

Receiving HA because of a state or federally declared disaster does not count against a client’s once per 12-months limit on HA.  In addition, clients affected by COVID-19 may be eligible for an exception to the once per 12-months limit because of uninhabitability of the home or a medical illness. For example, if a parent needs to isolate themselves because of COVID-19, HA should be granted based on exception because of medical illness.

HA applications are not required to be made in person or to include a face-to-face interview.  Counties can complete the application and have the client electronically sign it.  Counties can also record a verbal attestation over the phone or enter a case note stating the client attested to the information.

Counties can accept sworn statements for not providing paper verification such as hotel receipts or counties can grant good cause for not submitting paper verification.

Although existing guidance requires counties to issue vendor payments when there has been a finding of mismanagement, if there is no feasible way to issue vendor payments because of COVID-19, counties should consider issuing benefits on the client’s EBT card.  (All County Welfare Directors Letter, March 31, 2020.)