To: President Donald Trump, The California State House, The California State Senate, Governor Gavin Newsom, The United States House of Representatives, and The United States Senate

Work While on Welfare to Buy Toilet Paper = Homeless in Oakland, CA

In Oakland, CA, General Assistance welfare goes directly to your landlord. Even though this is only a loan, no cash goes directly to the welfare recipient for the necessities of life like utilities, phone, transportation, over-the-counter medicine Medi-Cal won't pay for, light bulbs, toilet paper, hygiene products, tampons, household cleaning products, laundry...etc. Most of the people who are on General Assistance for an extended period of time are disabled and applying for SSI/SSDI, a process that can take YEARS. They are in this situation in the first place because they are unable to hold down a job!

Every quarter people on General Assistance get a form to fill out asking them if they earned any money, including in trade. The burden of documenting it with print outs, copies, and stamps is imposed upon them even though they have no cash income. The letter brandishes threats of huge fines and jail time. This letter turns everyone receiving General Assistance welfare into "illegals", into people who have to see themselves as dishonest even if they don't get caught, because they have to get cash for TOILET PAPER from somewhere: from begging, from prostitution, from petty crime, or from under the table work. If you don't document it, you're an "illegal", and you will get in trouble if you stick your neck out about anything.

But I'm the type who likes to preserve my integrity: who wants to be able to challenge the politicians who represent everyone on welfare as lazy cheaters. So I worked when I could, bought my toilet paper, took a check and deposited in my bank account, legally documented on the government form, did what was best for the taxpayers, did what society wanted me to do, did the right thing in every way...

And Oakland Social Services punished me for it in every possible way! And the punishments keep on coming!

I'll be damned if I ever make the mistake of trying to work and honestly report it again. I would have been better off prostituting myself on a corner and quietly pocketing the money.

Because if I work and legally report it, Oakland undermines my housing.

I kid you not.

This is what happened.

1) After I did my little work-at-home job and received my check, I called my Social Services caseworker to ask how to report it and expressed concern about the ramifications if I filled out the State documentation wrong. He did not return my call (as usual).

2) When I got the State report form, I had the usual turn around time of 3 days. By the way, Oakland shifts the entire burden of "documenting" - whatever copying, printing, mailing, transportation that involves - on people that have no cash income. I had deposited a personal check (no stub) in a free paperless ebanking account. I was simply honest about it and wrote down what income I received and wrote down the circumstances, explaining that it was a one-time transaction, not a regular job.

3) Social Services defaults to assuming you have a regular job if you report ANY income, so they immediately cut off the rent check to my landlord. If I had lived in some rural area, that could have taken months to untangle - I could have been evicted just over that, and who knows what would have happened to me.

3) So note that means that working and legally reporting working = direct threat of eviction. (landlords who didn't like taking the welfare max of $336 month in the first place don't like to see that check suddenly cut off).

4) Luckily I live in radical Berkeley, and I'd been dealing with the Rube Goldberg machine that Oakland passes off as their Social Services program for some time, so I knew where to run to get an advocate who appealed on my behalf. This temporarily restored my landlord check. Well actually, it put the money on an EBT card where I could only get to $320 out of the $336 since bank machines will only deal in denominations of $20. I'm supposed to make up the $16 rent shortfall with my non-existing cash income. Another genius move by Oakland Social Services!

5) Then Social Services told me that when I work this is an "overpayment". I'm not allowed to have money for utility bills, hygiene products, transportation, TOILET PAPER, etc. Anything I work for and report comes out of LANDLORD's check at 10% a month! The one thing that needs to be stable and regular is the check that's going DIRECTLY to the Landlord: this arrangement was often a very delicate negotiation where a Landlord was not exactly happy about receiving $336/month in the first place. Now let's suppose I work to make up the missing 10% to my Landlord, and legally report THAT - Oakland takes another 10% a month!!! They have no respect for the need to keep that rent check stable. The more I try to work and the more I dare to have a moral center and legally report it, the more is recursively taken out of my Landlord's check! Gotta love Idiocracy in action!

6) I spent many hours waiting for my turn at the advocacy center on different days, waiting on hold with...

Why is this important?

Because depriving someone of the means of getting TOILET PAPER, and then punishing them for trying to do a little honest work WHILE DISABLED and then HONESTLY REPORTING IT by putting them through bureaucratic hell and then creating an imminent threat to their housing arrangements is JUST WRONG!