Inter-Departmental Correspondence

Human Services Agency



November 22, 2004



December 7, 2004



Honorable Board of Supervisors



Maureen D. Borland, Director, Human Services Agency


Glen H. Brooks, Jr., Director, Central Region






Adopt a resolution authorizing a modification to the General Assistance (GA) standard of aid effective

December 1, 2004.



State law requires counties to provide support for indigent county residents who do not qualify for other financial assistance. Every county has a GA program, which meets this requirement by providing financial assistance to adults with no children who are not eligible for Federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or State CalWORKs assistance. It is incumbent on the County Board of Supervisors to set the County “standard of aid.”


Since 1993, the County has chosen to set its GA grant levels according to a statutory “safe harbor” formula, which provides that a GA grant level that is based on and subject to the same annual adjustment as CalWORKs grant levels is a “sufficient standard of aid.” Compliance with the formula relieves the County of the requirement of setting the grant based on the cost of subsistence in the County. This approach ensures consistency of grant levels between counties, and discourages recipients from “grant shopping.” The traditional implementation date for GA Cost of Living Adjustment’s (COLA) is October 1st of each year. Additionally, even when the States’ COLA’s have included supplemental payments for COLA amounts between July 1st and September 30th, the County’s GA payments have not traditionally included such supplemental amounts.


In 1997, the Board of Supervisors authorized implementation of a statute that permitted the General Assistance grant to include the value of in-kind payments up to forty dollars ($40) per month in medical care provided by counties for those GA recipients who are not eligible for Medi-Cal.


On June 18, 2004, the State Department of Social Services advised counties that effective July 1, 2004, a COLA will increase grants to CalWORKs assistance units by 2.75 percent. Senate Bill ll04, however, also requires a 3 month suspension of the COLA beginning September 2004.



We are requesting an alignment of the GA grant consistent with the CalWORKs grant level and the statutory provisions which provide a safe harbor to counties which set GA grants according to the CalWORKs grant. Although the traditional implementation date for GA COLA’s is October 1st, it is requested that for FY 2004-05, the implementation date be December 1, 2004. This will align with implementation of the CalWORKs COLA which has been suspended for the period from September 2004 through November 2004 and will not be reinstated until December 1, 2004. Although the GA COLA was in effect for July 2004 and August 2004, the County has not traditionally provided for supplemental payments for COLA amounts prior to October 1st. We recommend that the monthly GA standard for aid be increased effective December 1, 2004 as follows:


From $349 to $359 for individuals who live alone, in shared housing, or who are homeless. For individuals in this group who are not eligible for Medi-Cal and who rely on the County of San Mateo to provide their health care needs, $40 of this $359 will continue to be the value of in-kind health care services, resulting in an increase from $309 to $319 in vendor/vouchers and cash;

From $309 to $319 for individuals who receive drug and alcohol treatment. This rate is consistent with the realignment of AOD residential rates to the standard non-AOD clients passed in October of 2003.

From $410 to $421 for individuals who receive board and care treatment.


In 1993, the Board adopted a Resolution, which authorized a change in the GA Program from cash program to a program comprised of cash and vendor/vouchers for housing and food. The GA grant level increase we are requesting is a proposed increase to be added to the vendor/ voucher portion which is used primarily for housing costs. This is beneficial since housing costs in San Mateo County continue to be problematic for these clients. The maximum cash payment issued to clients remains at $58.


Vision Alignment

The proposed action will keep the commitment of responsive, effective and collaborative government and goal number 20: Government decisions are based on careful consideration of future impact, rather than temporary relief or immediate gain.


Fiscal Impact

County General Funds support the GA Program. With the implementation of a 2.75% COLA increase effective December 1, 2004, the total increase is approximately $31,800. The appropriation in the amount of $1,982,400 is included in the Adopted Budget for FY 2004-05. The program is anticipated to operate within its appropriation. There is no additional Net County Cost.