Stone Introduces Bill to Help Homeless Families

For immediate release:

SACRAMENTO –Assemblymember Mark Stone (D-Monterey Bay) has introduced Assembly Bill 1452 to help homeless families.  Specifically, the bill increases the dollar amount of the one-time cash benefit which families facing homelessness can use for a hotel room, helping ensure that families are not forced to spend the night without shelter. The current temporary shelter assistance benefit under the CalWORKS program has remained unchanged since 2006.

“This bill helps parents who have lost their housing make sure that their kids spend the night in a clean, safe space instead of out on the street while they seek out more permanent shelter,” said Stone.  “In many regions in California, the cost of a modest hotel room is significantly higher than this cash benefit.  With the benefit increase that my bill provides, I hope to help more families afford a room when they need it.”

Under current law, families receiving CalWORKS benefits are entitled to receive a one-time homeless assistance benefit of $65 per day for up to four family members.  Additional family members may receive $15 each; the needy family can receive a maximum benefit of up to $125 per day.  The family may receive this cash benefit for a up to 16 consecutive days.  Stone’s bill would simply increase the base benefit from $65 to $75 and adds a cost of living adjustment to the modest amount, a change that would help homeless families better afford shelter.

The average room rate for in the United States was $106.15 in 2012, according to the American Hotel and Lodging Association.

According to a report by the Homelessness Research Institute, over 8,000 California families experienced homelessness in 2012.  The National Center on Family Homelessness reports that in 2010, over 330,000 children experienced homelessness.  Stone’s bill is designed to help ensure that families can afford temporary shelter while waiting for permanent housing.

Children who experience homelessness, even for a short time, are more likely to have worse health outcomes and problems in school. According to NCFH, they are sick four times more often than children who are not homeless, and they experience twice the rate of hunger as other children.  Less than one quarter of homeless students in elementary school are proficient in math and reading.

Stone serves as Chair of the Assembly Human Services Committee, which reviews legislation regarding public benefits for vulnerable California families.  He is co-authoring AB 264 (Maienschein), legislation eliminates the requirement for the 16 days of temporary shelter assistance to be consecutive, thereby ensuring program effectiveness.

CONTACT: Arianna Smith, arianna.smith@asm.ca.gov, 916-319-2029