June 2008 E-Newsletter
A TOWN HALL'S URGENT MESSAGE: HALT HEARTLESS CUTS
Tell Michael Garcia about the Governor's proposed deep cuts to human service programs and he'll reply, "They're ripping the rug of hope out from under us.''
Garcia has firsthand knowledge. With the help of a state-assisted drug rehabilitation program, the 38-year-old San Jose man straightened out his life and is employed as a metal frame worker, paying taxes, contributing to society, and raising a family. A little help from the state went a long way in benefiting his life.
Garcia joined 370 other people -- including myself and Assemblymembers Joe Coto, Sally Lieber, Ira Ruskin, and Alberto Torrico, the majority leader -- for a Town Hall meeting in San Jose to marshal our forces against a lopsided budget that would sacrifice our children, poor, elderly, and folks with disabilities but asks nothing of California's wealthy.
College students and officials, In-Home Support Service clients and home-care givers, public school teachers, PTA leaders, physicians, and others who will feel the axe of the devastating cuts were there to tell how the cuts will damage their lives. Catholic Charities of Santa Clara presented about 1,000 letters protesting cuts to vital services for seniors and low-income people. My colleagues and I will take the stories we heard and the letters to the Capitol and let every lawmaker know about the terrible affects of these cuts.
To understand their stories, click here to play a video introduction about the budget and learn how you can help stop cuts that hurt our most vulnerable citizens.
Some say the deficit can be solved through budget cuts alone. Cutting does not solve our deep structural budget problems. Hacking our way out of the deficit would eviscerate our state government, education system, emergency services, and the watchdog agencies we rely on. The California we cherish would be lost.
The Governor's proposed cuts will:
Drop 200,000 children who are already poor from public assistance;
Cut 1,200 social workers who investigate child abuse;
Cut services that help 42,000 kids stay out of foster care and remain with their families;
Slash funding that will help foster kids get adopted or permanently placed; and
Sever the In-Home Support Services lifeline that helps thousands of elderly disabled people stay out of expensive nursing homes.
Instead, we should carefully balance sensible cuts with new revenues so we can avoid the bleak future where there are 40 kids in every classroom and long lines that trail out of hospital emergency rooms and soup kitchens.
No one wants this nightmare scenario. That is why I am urging constituents to write or call legislators to let them know exactly how you feel about these unacceptable cuts to our schools and the Safety Net that serves those who need help.
HOMEOWNER AND RENTER ASSISTANCE PROGRAM
The Homeowner and Renter Assistance Program filing season begins July 1 and ends Oct. 15. The program is funded through the 2008-2009 budget. The California Franchise Tax Board reports it will begin issuing assistance checks after the state budget is signed by the Governor.
This program allows qualified homeowners to receive a once-a-year payment from the State of California based on part of the property taxes assessed and paid on their homes. Payments to homeowners range from $20 to $472. Qualified renters can receive a payment from the state based on the portion of property taxes they paid indirectly as part of their rent. These one-time payments range from $15 to $347.
General eligibility qualifications for homeowners are that they must live in their home and have a household income of $42,770 or less; renters must meet the same income requirements and also have paid at least $50 in rent per month.
All claimants - whether filing for the homeowner or renter payment - must have been blind, disabled, or at least 62 years old on or before Dec. 31, 2007. In addition, only U.S. citizens, designated aliens, or a qualified alien can file a claim.
For more information, contact the Franchise Tax Board at (916) 845-4300, or visit the board's website, http://www.ftb.ca.gov/individuals/hra/index.shtml.
Many people in Silicon Valley are just a paycheck or two away from being homeless. Last year, Santa Clara County and San Jose officials convened a Blue Ribbon Commission of 25 civic leaders to solve our community's dual dilemma of homelessness and lack of affordable housing. At their final meeting in December, they adopted goals and strategies to end homelessness and solve the housing crisis within a decade.
Two of the commission's recommendations are ready for implementation later this year. Both the "One Stop" Homelessness Prevention Center and a Medical Respite Facility that will help homeless people recuperate after checking out of hospitals are located in San Jose.
But those are just the first steps. Making the rest of the plan come true - constructing a wide variety of affordable housing and building residences to shelter the homeless - will be a tall order. The price tag on the county's and city's plan is an estimated $25 million.
To reach these goals, civic and community leaders are creating a regional board to raise money. For more information about the efforts by Destination: Home to end homelessness and to solve the affordable housing crisis in Santa Clara County contact Maury Kendall, (408) 345-4392, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please join us for a free pancake breakfast with your neighbors where we'll talk about your ideas about community and legislative issues! The breakfast is co-sponsored by San Jose Councilman Kansen Chu. Here's the date, time, and place:
Saturday, June 21
8 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
Berryessa Community Center
3050 Berryessa Road
San Jose, CA 95132
For more information please contact Assemblymember Beall's office, (408) 282-8920, or Councilman Chu's office, (408) 535-4904.