Food & Justice News October 10, 2019

Food & Justice News October 10, 2019

HALA Dinner & Awards Event new date/time and location: Hunger Action LA’s fundraising dinner is now Thursday October 17 hosted by our great colleagues at LA Community Action Network, 838 E 6th. St! The time is 7 to 9 pm. Parking is at 6th & Ceres Ave. For more information 213 388 8228. Tickets $100. Use PayPal and indicate if you are buying a ticket or making a general contribution.

  1. The Hits Keep Coming: Trump Admin Trying New Strategy To Slash Food Assistance
  2. Governor Newsom Signs California Statewide Rent Control Into Law!

The Hits Keep Coming: Trump Admin Trying New Strategy To Slash Food Assistance

The Trump administration has in the past year launched multiple attempts to drastically cut into SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, still usually called “Food Stamps”) benefits, which help low-income Americans tide over hard times through a collaboration with retail grocers, farmers markets and others who can accept SNAP benefits, thereby making it clearly a public-private partnership that has long had support from both parties. With attacks on SNAP policy being made with no logical rationale to back them up , SNAP represents civilian casualties in the cultural/political war in which we find ourselves; the administration can strike back at its perceived foes, while actually hurting many people who no doubt supported the President as SNAP data will show when comparing the numbers of recipients in “red” and “blue” states.

In addition to two direct attacks on the program by eliminating waivers for jobless, childless adults to get benefits, and the other by messing with the formula that allows people with high living expenses to get benefits, there was the indirect attack via the “Public Charge” rule that would punish immigrants seeking to become permanent residents, by penalizing them for using SNAP to feed their families if necessary.

Now comes the third of the “direct” attempts to slash the budget for SNAP; this one is another behind-the-scenes method that tinkers with the formula used to determine benefit levels for households.   

From our statewide partners (California Food Policy Advocates, Western Center on Law and Poverty, and California Association of Food Banks) comes this description:

Current law requires the SNAP program to recognize the utility expenses of each SNAP applicant household and adjust the benefits issued based on the Standard Utility Allowance (SUA) calculated by the State and approved in the State plan.

The current policy allows variances in SUAs to accommodate for differences in utility costs and rates, and allows states flexibility in how they calculate those costs.

The proposed changes would standardize those calculations across the country and set the SUA to an amount lower than what would be needed to meet the costs of utilities for many Californians. Nationwide, the proposed change is estimated to result in cuts to food assistance by $4.5 billion over a five-year period.

California Advocates Statement Against Proposed Utility Rule Change in SNAP

In other words, they’re going to adjust the formula so that states with higher heating and cooling costs don’t get that taken into consideration when people apply for food benefits —it’s being replaced with a “one size fits all” utility deduction that the administration knows full well, will hit some states particularly hard.

As with previous assaults on SNAP, we the public get a 60 day comment period to oppose the proposal. Whether this sways them or not, the question is: Which side are we on? Let’s get our comments in.

An easy way to submit comments is via the FRAC website (Food Research and Action Center)

Deadline is December 2.

Thanks to Food Research and Action Center, California Food Policy Advocates, Western Center on Law and Poverty, and California Association of Food Banks.

Governor Newsom Signs California Statewide Rent Control Into Law!

Most Californians who need food assistance know this: the rent is “too damn high” and this is one of the major reasons, if not the single largest reason, that so many in our state can’t afford enough to eat, even if they are working.

Governor Gavin Newsome signed legislation yesterday, AB 1482, which for the first time in decades would establish statewide rent control. Here are some features:

  • Yearly rent increases over the next decade will be limited to 5% plus inflation
  • Tenants will receive some protection against eviction, except for “just cause”
  • The rent cap will not apply to apartments built in the last 15 years, nor will it apply to single-family home rentals (unless those are owned by institutions or corporations, not by individual owners).

According the UC Berkeley’s Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society, over 9.5 million renters in California spend at least 30% of their income on housing costs.

There’s controversy to be sure, as landlords argued that this will ultimately cause even higher rent increases, that landlords will rush to raise the rent as high as they can right now before the law takes effect or go on sprees of evicting tenants before January, and other advocates argue that the rent control protections are not adequate.

But at least for the first time in a long time, the state has had the will to do something about the housing crisis on a statewide level using two words long considered dead as a phrase: rent control.

See LA Times story by Liam Dillon:

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