A Deadly Proposal: Alameda County proposes to cut poor, unemployed workers off of aid for six months of each year.

POOR correspondent - Posted on 22 June 2010

Cullette X and Tiny/PoorNewsNetwork
Wednesday, April 16, 2008

I have lived in Oakland my whole life. I have lived in poverty for most of my life. I have worked since as far back as I can remember.

My story isn't strange or different. I am like many poor people in the US. People you rarely hear from. Rarely consider. Hardly see. This could why the County of Alameda is quietly considering a proposal to cut off the meager General Assistance (GA) benefits given to unemployed workers which will make our already difficult lives even more difficult and eventually will kill us.

As a child, my mother, an immigrant from Haiti, struggled to raise me and my sisters as a poor single mother. She worked two jobs and I had to help take care of my sisters while she was at work. One day a neighbor called Child Protective Services while she was at work and the police came and put me and my sisters in foster homes. I never saw my mother again.

I suffered severe abuse in those homes, those homes I was placed in "for my best interests" and in many ways I have never recovered. I tell you my life story because it informs who I am today. A poor woman struggling to get, keep and hold down a job. A job that pays me enough to live in the town I was born in. A town impacted by gentrification, redevelopment and the rising cost of living.

I have been working since I was 14. I started with domestic work and then graduated to fast food jobs. I trained to be a Certified Nurses Assistant and straddled two jobs for over 14 years in this field until I got a herniated disc and was laid up for over a month.

I am now on General Assistance and am seeking work. I also do work just to get my benefits, unlike the mythology about welfare, there is NO free money. We all work for our cash aid and food stamps. As well, I look for work everyday but I am older now and face a lot of covert ageism from prospective employers. They don't think I am "fit" enough to do a job that involves caring for elders. I am not sure what I can do.

If the County of Alameda proceeds with its plan to impose six month time limits to receiving aid, many of us will starve, resort to underground economies (crime), end up homeless, and/or get very sick and the so-called "employable", yet obviously disabled, unemployed workers who are on GA with me will surely die.

I have struggled my whole life, I am tired, and I am not sure if I will make it through another crisis, but I really don't want to die, which is why I am using my voice to tell the truth about this deadly proposal.

Cullette X (not her real name) is a race and poverty scholar enrolled in the Digital Resistance Media Program at POOR Magazine's Race, Poverty and Media Justice Institute. Tiny is a Poverty Scholar in residence at POOR Magazine/PoorNewsNetwork

Please join poverty scholars, advocates, doctors and service providers from all over the Bay Area at a rally for life on the steps of 1221 Oak Street (at 12th street) in Oakland @ 10:00 am on Monday, April 28th . The rally and press conference will proceed a hearing on this proposal in front of the Social Services Committee of the Board of Supervisors on the 5th floor of the same building at 10:30. Please stay and speak out against this deadly proposal, your voices will count.


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