People Speaking Up

root - Posted on 30 November 2009

5000 unemployed workers in Oakland protest cuts to welfare for unemployed workers

by RAM / Ruyata A. McGlothin

People speaking up, seemed not to matter
People speaking, I seen no one scatter
People was speaking up, when I thought we had her
I was nervous with my heart hella beating
When I said my speech, I thought were they even looking at me?
They just sat and stared
Passed back and fourth, some funny looking glares
While Alameda residents spoke about their fears
"You want our money going where?
You want our money going there?
My whole families share?"
So many of us unaware
This aint enough even for us to live
At least what is ours should be given
And what about my kids
And now you cutting off
General Assistance is all I got
That is how I must pay the rents month
And the food to cook in the kettle pots
Something left for the people~
The system is seeming not

I am a father of two children and am receiving General Assistance (GA). On June
8th and 9th, 2009, I attended a hearing on the cuts to G.A. proposed by the
Alameda County Board of Supervisors. They are planning to cut General
Assistance to only three months every year, a whooping 75% decrease
affecting thousands of unemployed workers living in poverty.

In addition to leaving recipients without aid for nine months in a year, the proposal also includes reducing all G.A. grants
by $40.00 every month for people without MediCal and further reducing grants
by up to 25% for people who share housing. These severe cuts would affect
over 7,000 Alameda County community members who are currently facing
unemployment in one of the nation's worst recessions.

In 1997, Alameda County imposed a time limit on General Assistance. The county saw an increase in hunger, crime, homelessness and housing
instability. According to a study prepared for the Alameda County Social
Services Agency on the impact of time limits on G.A., 29% of recipients
surveyed were forced to move after losing aid and 20% became homeless. 53%
reported that they went hungry for at least one day a week and only 8%
reported finding full-time employment after losing their benefits.

During the hearing on Tuesday, June 9, 2009, the council members took a
vote. Nate Miley and Keith Carson voted against; Alice Bitker, Gail Steele
and Steve Haggerty voted for this catastrophe to be placed in our system.

"In the biggest recession since World War II, it doesn't make sense to cut
people off without a dime for nine months of the year," said Ed Barnes,
attorney at the East Bay Community Law Center. "These cuts are going to cost
us a lot more in the long run, in public protection, health care, and safety
net services."

"What does employable mean when there is no employment?" said Lisa
Gray-Garcia, former Alameda County welfare recipient, executive director of
POOR Magazine, and author of Criminal of Poverty: Growing Up Homeless in
"In light of economic downturn when there are no jobs, the idea of employable can only mean one thing: starve-able."

How can we protect children we cannot feed
Insure a future if our youth are starving
How are we going to.......


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