As a member of the Orange County Coalition for the Homeless, I was greatly distressed by your article (Aug. 9) on the county's action in raising the general relief grant. It repeats without question the contradictory statements of Larry Leaman, director of the Social Services Agency, that there were few available rooms for rent for the general relief grant of $161, and Supervisor Roger Stanton's statement that "the good news is that the SSA study revealed that 97.4% of all general relief recipients are housed. . . ." No mention was made of the coalition's study, which showed that only 4% of general relief recipients were able to find housing.
I suppose I should be quiet and grateful that finally some steps were taken by the county to bring the relief program into compliance with state law. We volunteers usually do that. However, the campaign that has been waged to discredit the coalition's monthlong study as unscientific and biased seems to have been bought by The Times. The reality is that if the coalition's study had no weight and if the county didn't know there were community people ready to bring legal action, nothing probably would have been done for the general relief recipient.
I have been a volunteer for the entire 24 years that I have lived in Orange County. I am tired of having free volunteer labor looked down upon as not being as credible as that which you pay through the nose for. If the County of Orange had commissioned our study, it would probably have cost in the neighborhood of $100,000. The hundreds of volunteer hours were contributed by UC Irvine professors, MSW's (master social workers), attorneys, teachers, agency heads, scores of valued people.
Instead of discrediting the study, the county should look at it as an invaluable contribution to the improvement of the lives of many of our impoverished community.