In partnership with Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County, Western Center on Law and Poverty, and The Public Interest Law Project, Sidley obtained a major victory in the fight against hunger on behalf of Hunger Action Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Community Action Network. On June 24, 2022, the Los Angeles Superior Court entered a permanent injunction in the case Hunger Action Los Angeles, et al. v. County of Los Angeles, et al., requiring the county to process and approve emergency applications for CalFresh — formerly known as food stamps — in a timely manner. The injunction will impact thousands of vulnerable families experiencing dangerous food insecurity in Los Angeles County each month.
The State of California requires counties to expedite food assistance applications for people with extremely low incomes who are homeless or whose housing costs exceed their resources or monthly income. However, for more than a year, LA County consistently failed to process emergency CalFresh applications in under three days as required by law. In one month alone, the county failed to meet the state’s three-day timeline in 53% of eligible applications, leaving 7,600 individuals and families who qualify for expedited benefits without access to CalFresh. Some applicants had to wait more than a month to receive emergency food assistance. Peter, a CalFresh applicant named in the lawsuit, was 17 years old when his father suffered a severe stroke that left him partially paralyzed and unable to continue his work as a day laborer. Peter should have received access to CalFresh in three days. Instead, the family heard nothing from the county for 17 days, at which time someone called and left a message. When Peter’s father tried to return the call, he got a “high call-volume” message and was disconnected. Then he received a letter stating Peter’s application had been denied. This victory will help CalFresh applicants like Peter receive the much-needed food assistance they require.
The Sidley pro bono team was led by Century City partner Amy Lally and Los Angeles counsel Genevieve Weiner, with assistance from associate Suzanne Span and senior managing associate Anna Gumport (both in Los Angeles).