SAN FERNANDO : City to Employ Workfare Recipients

General-relief recipients who must work for their benefits will in a few months join San Fernando city workers picking up trash and removing graffiti.

The city of San Fernando became the latest in a group of public and nonprofit entities to agree to use workers provided under the county's Workfare Program, which requires about 50,000 single adult women and men to work nine hours a month in exchange for monthly benefits of $293.

William Hamilton, the city's interim personnel director, said it may be three months before the first client starts work under the agreement between the city and Los Angeles County approved last week by the San Fernando City Council. In return for the free labor, the city agrees to provide on-the-job training.

"It seems like a very worthwhile program. The city's benefit is we get a lot of hours of work for a lot of things we can't afford to do," Hamilton said.

He said the workers will primarily be placed with the city's public works department, which is responsible for graffiti removal and the maintenance of public streets, parks and buildings.

Mary Robertson, a program deputy for the county Department of Social Services, welcomed the addition of San Fernando to a list of agencies that participate in the program, including Caltrans and the cities of Long Beach, Los Angeles and Pico Rivera.

"We're always trying to get agencies to open up to our general-relief clients," Robertson said. "It's putting people who are having to rely on general relief into a work situation where they can learn skills . . . that will hopefully gain them full employment in the future."

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