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Amid a state mandate for all California residents to stay home, social service help is there for offered to Orange County’s most vulnerable populations despite closures to some public offices.
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These programs include Medi-Cal health coverage, CalFresh food assistance, California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs), In-Home Supportive Services, and cash relief for immigrants and those with low income.
The Orange County Social Services Agency announced today it will be extending its hours of operations from 6:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. on weekdays and 7:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturdays.
The agency’s Public Information Officer Laura Turtzer said there has not been an increase in applications for public benefits at this time in an email to the Voice of OC.
“We continue to monitor the situation and anticipate numbers may increase over time,” Turtzer said in the email.
Gov. Gavin Newsom — before issuing a statewide, stay-at-home order — issued one earlier Wednesday afternoon suspending eligibility reevaluations requirements for social service programs geared toward assisting low-income families for three months.
That means Orange County’s Social Services Agency can waive face-to-face requirements for people to apply for these programs.
The agency is encouraging people to apply over the phone or online for programs like Medi-Cal, which pays for medical services for low income adults and children; CalFresh, which provides monthly food benefits through food stamps or Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards for low income individuals and families; and CalWORKs, which provides low income families with monetary relief.
Apply online for General Relief, Medi-Cal, CalFresh, and CalWORKS here.
Orange County Social Service Agency Director Debra Baetz issued a statement encouraging people to use phones and the internet to file for benefits.
“Encouraging clients to employ social distancing strategies – and in this case, to use alternate channels in lieu of visiting our (Social Service Agency) regional office locations when possible – can help protect them and the community as a whole,” said Baetz.
OC residents can also apply over the phone for any of these programs by calling (800) 281-9799.
The Adult Protective Services program, directed at helping neglected or abused adults unable to protect themselves due to age or disability, will restrict home visits to just cases in need of an immediate response, according to a press release sent out Thursday.
Existing clients can also reach out to their assigned case workers with questions.
Those who wish to review case information, request a replacement benefits card or for the three programs listed above can do so at https://www.mybenefitscalwin.org/ or by calling (800) 281-9799.
In-home supportive services will also remain available, and are intended for people 65 years and older, blind, disabled or simply can’t live at home alone safely.
Applications for in-house supportive services can be found online and submitted through email by sending the application to IHSSapplications@ssa.ocgov.com. They can also be faxed in at 714-825-3001 or mailed in to P.O. Box 22006, Santa Ana, CA 92702.
Applications are available in English, Spanish, Chinese and Armenian.
Those who wish to apply over the phone may do so by calling 714-825-3000 during regular business hours.
Both Newsom and the county have strongly recommended that individuals 65 and older, as well as those with chronic conditions remain home and self isolated.
General relief, a cash assistance program, can also be applied for by calling 714-834-8899, faxing an application to (714) 825-3155 or now online.
Cash Assistance Program for Immigrants provides money for non citizens who are disabled or of a certain age. Participants are also eligible for Medi-Cal, In-Home Supportive Services, and/or Food Stamp benefits. For more information about the program call 1-800-929-8118.
Hosam Elattar is a Voice of OC intern. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.