End of Homeless Assistance eligibility because of COVID-19

The California Department of Social Service (CDSS) has informed counties of the end of CalWORKs Homeless Assistance (HA) eligibility because of COVID-19. In general, families can only receive HA once per year.  However, there is an exception to the once per year limitation because of a disaster.  Effective May 12, 2023, families can no longer receive HA under the disaster exception when homelessness is because of COVID-19.  Families may still be eligible for an HA exception for medically verified mental of physical disability because of COVID.

Going forward, HA applications do not need to be made in person or include a face-to-face interview.  Counties can complete the HA application and have the client sign it electronically.

Counties can continue to accept sworn statements or verbal attestations that HA benefits were properly spent or housing search was done.  Counties can also grant good cause for not providing paper verification.

Counties can record a verbal attestation for the homeless assistance application form when the county cannot get a written or electronic signature.  Counties that cannot record verbal attestation can enter a journal not stating the attestation.

For clients on vendor payments because of fraud or mismanagement, counties can issue HA benefits directly to the EBT card when there is no feasible way to issue a vendor payment.  (ACL 23-56, June 26, 2023.)

CalWORKs time limit exemption for indian country residents in areas with over fifty percent unemployment

The California Department of Social Service (CDSS) has informed County Welfare Departments (CWDs) of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program updates on whether the Indian Country residents who participate qualify for federal and state time limit exemptions. Individuals are exempt from both CalWORKs and federal TANF time limits when the individual is on aid and lives in Indian Country or in an Alaskan Native Village where at least fifty percent unemployment are exempt from both federal and state time limits. The letter identifies federally recognized tribes that had over fifty percent unemployment in 2022. The exemption also applies to tribal TANF programs.

Individuals who live in these areas qualify for the time limit exemption for specified months. If an individual lives in the exterior boundaries of an Indian reservation that is not listed in the letter as having over fifty percent unemployment, the county or Tribal TANF program can get written documentation from the tribe that the individual lived in an area where unemployment of adults is 50 percent or higher.

CalWORKs applicants and recipients must be informed of all program time limit requirements and of how to request an exemption. Recipients must also be provided with information about their accumulated time on aid at specific intervals. (ACL 23-38, April 27, 2023.)

CalWORKs MBSAC increase

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has informed counties that the CalWORKs Minimum Basic Standard of Care (MBSAC) will increase by 6.85% effective July 1, 2023.  This is an annual cost of living increase.  This will increase the MBSAC in Region 1 to $862 for a 1 one person assistance unit, $1,415 for a 2 person assistance unit, $1,753 for a 3 person assistance unit and increasing with increases in assistance unit size.  The MBSAC for Region 2 will increase to $818 for a 1 one person assistance unit, $1,343 for a 2 person assistance unit, $1,664 for a 3 person assistance unit and increasing with increases in assistance unit size.

The MBSAC is the maximum income before deductions that a family can have to be eligible for CalWORKs.

The same increase will apply to the MBSAC for Refugee Cash Assistance, Entrant Cash Assistance and Trafficking and Crime Victims Assistance Program.  The same increase will apply to the CalWORKs Income in-kind level, which is the maximum amount of in kind income that is counted against the grant. (ACL 23-48, May 26, 2023.)


Increase in CalWORKs vehicle value limit

The California Department of Social Services has informed counties that the vehicle value for the CalWORKs program increases to $32,045 effective July 1, 2023.  This increase also applies to Refugee Cash Assistance, Entrant Cash Assistance, and Trafficking and Crime Victims Assistance Program (TCVAP).  The vehicle value is the amount of the value of a vehicle that does not count toward the program resource limit.

The welfare department computer systems will be programmed for the increased vehicle value effective July 1, 2023.  (ACL 23-47, May 30, 2023.)

Process for request and approval process for guaranteed income projects operating in multiple counties

The California Department of Social Services has issued a notice describing the process for counties to request an income exemption for people who receive to CalWorks and CalFresh and are also participating in guaranteed income (GI) projects that operate multiple counties. GI projects that operate in multiple counties can request that their participants have the GI payments exempted on a project-by- project basis. The purpose of the policy is to provide a way for counties GI projects to be exempted from CalWorks and CalFresh benefits. 

The organization operating the GI project needs to pick one county to take the lead and submit the following documents: A letter explaining why the organization needs an exemption, a letter of support for the main county, and a letter of support from the other counties in the project. All requests will be reviewed on a rolling basis.

GI income exemption is granted only if applicants comply with the mandated criteria in the Welfare and Institutions code. If the GI program is operated by a non-government entity, it must coordinate with their local Health and Human Service Agency. CDSS will only accept exemption requestions from county Health and Human Services agency.

For income from GI projects to be exempt for CalFresh purposes, there must be some amount of private funds included in each direct payment to project participants.  (ACIN I-82-22, December 23, 2022.) 

CalWORKS Home Visiting Program re-enrollment

The CalWORKs Home Visiting Program (HVP) pairs participants with a nurse or other trained professional who makes regular home visits to provide guidance, coaching, access to prenatal and postnatal care, and other health and social services.  Individual are eligible for HVP if 1) they are a member of a CalWORKs assistance unit, the parent or caretaker relative in a child- only CalWORKs case, a pregnant person who has applied for CalWORKs within 60 days of reaching the second trimester of pregnancy, or an individual who is apparently eligible for CalWORKS, and 2) The individual is pregnant, or the parent or caretaker relative of a child less than 24 months old at the time of enrolling in the program.

HVP participants may be eligible to re-enroll in HVP if they were unable to complete 24 months of services during their initial enrollment, and: 1) initial enrollment was discontinued because the child was removed from the assistance unit because of death of the child, termination of parental rights, or relinquishment of parental rights, 2) at the time HVP services were discontinued, there were no other eligible children in the assistance unit, 3) the family is now eligible for HVP with a new pregnancy or new eligible child, and 4) the evidence-based model that the county is using allows for participant re-enrollment.

Re-enrolled participants are eligible for services for 24 months, or until the new child turns two years old, whichever is later.  There is no limit on the number of times a participant can re-enroll in HVP.

When the initially eligible child is no longer part of the household, HVP services can continue if the participant has another child(ren) in the home and the evidence-based model allows for continued participation.  Their participation will end when they have received 24 months of services.

A household that is granted re-enrollment or continued enrollment is eligible for the remaining balance of their $1,000 material good fund from their initial enrollment.  (ACL 23-11, February 1, 2023.)