News on Human Services Programs, Legislation & the People We Serve – October 31, 2016

Media memo

To submit stories for inclusion in CWDA’s weekly Media Memo, email Sarah Jimenez. County staff and others not currently receiving the Media Memo directly can sign up on the CWDA website at the bottom of the home page.


3 TVs and No Food: Growing Up Poor in America | The New York Times | October 28, 2016

 Here’s the kind of person whom America’s presidential candidates just don’t talk about: a sweet, grinning, endangered 13-year-old boy named Emanuel Laster. Emanuel has three televisions in his room, two of them gargantuan large-screen models. But there is no food in the house. As for the TVs, at least one doesn’t work, and the electricity was supposed to be cut off for nonpayment on the day I visited his house here in Pine Bluff: Emanuel’s mother deployed her pit bull terrier in the yard in hopes of deterring the utility man. (This seemed to work.) The home, filthy and chaotic with a broken front door, reeks of marijuana. The televisions and Emanuel’s bed add an aspirational middle-class touch, but they were bought on credit and are at risk of being repossessed. The kitchen is stacked with dirty dishes, and not much else. “I just go hungry,” Emanuel explained. If Emanuel were in Aleppo, Syria, maybe we would — briefly, ineffectually — fret about his plight or discuss it in a presidential debate. But he inhabits the rubble of our domestic no man’s land of poverty, narcotics and hopelessness, and so he is invisible… What many Americans don’t understand about poverty is that it’s perhaps less about a lack of money than about not seeing any path out. More than 80 percent of American households living below the poverty line have air-conditioning, so in material terms they’re incomparably better off than poor families in India or Congo. In other ways their lives can be worse.


Housing is now unaffordable in many rural parts of California too | KPCC | October 25, 2016

People fleeing big coastal cities like L.A. and San Francisco in search of more affordable housing inland could be in for sticker shock. A new report released Tuesday reveals that inland, rural parts of California are increasingly unaffordable too. “That came as a big surprise because historically we have thought of the housing problem as being a focus in larger cities, but we found every city has this problem,” said Jonathan Woetzel, director of the McKinsey Global Institute and a co-author of the study. Woetzel found it is nearly as expensive to live in Watsonville, a small farming community in Santa Cruz county, as it is in Los Angeles. Fifty-seven percent of households in the rural area of Santa Cruz-Watsonville are unable to afford the cost of housing.


Attacked, abused and often forgotten: Women now make up 1 in 3 homeless people in L.A. County | Los Angeles Times | October 29, 2016

After Tonnietta Mauricico was stalked and raped in Minneapolis, her attacker went to jail. Mauricico, now 40, was plunged into a three-year tailspin that drove her from homeless shelters in the Bay Area to downtown Los Angeles, where she was amazed to find rows of tents with women inside. Skid row’s encampments, enduring for decades, still have the power to astonish. But the women who live there are a new and eye-popping phenomenon. One in three homeless people in Los Angeles County are women, according to government figures released this year. The total of more than 14,000 women is a 55% increase from 2013. The number of women camped out in RVs, tents and lean-tos doubled in the last three years.

SF’s new plan to get homeless families off the streets | San Francisco Chronicle | October 29, 2016

In one of the wealthiest cities in the world, these are startling statistics. There are 1,303 homeless families in San Francisco’s public schools with a total of 2,097 children, more than double the total nine years ago. Fifteen families, including 20 children, live in tents or cars on the city’s streets. Mayors and supervisors have long prioritized solving homelessness for single adults — those grizzled guys we see every day with their cardboard signs and shopping carts — because they’re far more visible and bothersome to residents and tourists. Families are fewer, hidden away and easier to ignore. That’s changing under San Francisco’s new Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, which by next summer will have a new way of dealing with family homelessness. The goal is that by 2020, every family in San Francisco that becomes homeless will be housed within 90 days.

Mental Health

Divided Mental Health Care System Can Strand Medi-Cal Patients In The Middle | Kaiser Health News | October 28, 2016

When the voices in his head become too overwhelming, Kevin Scott heads to the emergency room. Scott, 54, said he wants regular therapy and medication for his depression and schizophrenia but has had trouble getting either. He said his primary care doctor urged him to seek help through the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health, but the department just sent him back to his doctor. “It’s passing the buck,” said Scott, who used to work as a security guard. “It’s the only way to put it. You get frustrated.” For low-income Californians enrolled in the state’s Medi-Cal program, mental health care is divided. Managed care plans are responsible for covering people with mild to moderate conditions, while county mental health departments treat those with more serious illnesses. This means that if people have a serious mental illness and then stabilize, they are expected to switch providers, which doesn’t make sense and is not common practice in other areas of medicine, said Bill Walker, Kern County’s director of mental health. “We don’t do that with diabetes or high blood pressure,” he said. “But we do it with psychiatric issues.”