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Two homeless women and two welfare rights groups have filed a class-action suit in San Diego County Superior Court challenging a county rule that makes it difficult for homeless people to collect welfare benefits.

The suit, filed Wednesday, seeks to overturn a policy requiring recipients of $120-a-month general relief benefits to prove they are residents of San Diego County within 60 days after they get their first welfare check.

The plaintiffs are Joyce Nelson, 53, who has lived in the county for 33 years, and Carol Edmiston, 50, a resident for 41 years, according to the suit.

Since neither woman can afford rent on the $120 a month they get from the county, they roam the streets, one sleeping in shelters when she can, the other spending nights in her car. That means the women cannot prove they reside here. Nelson has lost her benefits and Edmiston’s will soon run out.

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The suit argues that the county is required by the state Constitution and statutes to “relieve and support all poor and indigent residents of San Diego County.”

“Thousands of San Diego County’s neediest residents are suffering the loss of life’s barest necessities due to (the county’s) action,” the suit said.

County Counsel Lloyd Harmon said Friday that he had not read the suit but that he believes the county policy is defensible.

“From the county’s perspective, that seems to be a reasonable requirement in that the county is only required to extend general relief to persons lawfully residing within the county,” Harmon said. “That’s one (method) of determining whether someone is a lawful resident of the county.”

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