From hotel rooms for people who are homeless to restaurant meals for seniors isolating for their lives, California has rapidly expanded its safety net in an attempt to catch millions of residents impacted by the coronavirus and its economic aftershocks.
In daily press conferences during the pandemic’s first months, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced new “first-in-the-nation” plans to protect vulnerable Californians from illness or financial distress at a dizzying pace.
But months in, the pandemic safety net strains and sometimes snaps under the weight of Californians’ needs. People spend hours calling agency after agency seeking help to buy groceries or pay rent. Many fall through the cracks.
Approximately 16 million Californians, or 53% of all adults, have lost income since March 13, according to estimates from a Census Bureau survey conducted in mid-June. An estimated 3.5 million residents report their family lacked enough food to eat, up from 2.7 million before the pandemic. And 3.3 million have slight or no confidence that they’ll be able to pay July’s rent.
Cassie Gamboa, left, and Robert Romo, right, go into their new hotel room with Edwin Aviles, of Union Station Homeless Services on Tuesday, April 7, 2020. Photo by Michael Owen Baker courtesy of Los Angeles County
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Gov. Gavin Newsom carries meals made at the Queen Sheba Ethiopian Cuisine restaurant to a waiting delivery vehicle in Sacramento on June 19, 2020. Newsom visited the restaurant that is participating in the Great Plates Delivered program that provides meals to older adults who are at-risk to COVID-19. Photo by Rich Pedroncelli, AP Photo/Pool
Despite the green light to move into phase two of reopening for Placer County, many businesses in downtown Roseville remain closed on May 14, 2020. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters
Kaden Minor, 10, helps to load the family car with bagged meals at Sankofa Academy in Oakland. Children and their families from anywhere in the district can pick up multiple days worth of lunches and breakfasts from a dozen sites across the city during the mandated school closure. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters
Gov. Gavin Newsom, wears a face mask as he answers a reporters question during his visit to the Queen Sheba Ethiopian Cuisine restaurant in Sacramento on Friday, June 19, 2020. Newsom visited the restaurant that is participating in the Great Plates Delivered program that provides meals to older adults who are at-risk to COVID-19. Photo by Rich Pedroncelli, AP Photo/Pool
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Whether California’s safety net response represents the best the state could do to keep its residents afloat or a one-two punch of overpromising and underdelivering may lie in the eyes of the beholder.
For some of California’s biggest pandemic safety net programs, here’s how the state’s promises square with reality:
The promise? Since Newsom’s shelter-in-place order in mid-March, the state’s unemployment rate has soared from 2.0% to 17.3%. Over 6.7 million people have sought unemployment benefits — more than the first two years of the Great Recession.
To keep up with an avalanche of jobless claims, …read more
Source:: Los Angeles Daily News