Over the last few years, we’ve heard bits and pieces about San Diego County’s social welfare programs. A lawsuit demonstrated how strict the county’s limits were for providing health care coverage for the poor. News stories about controversial anti-fraud policies hinted at overriding policy decisions. An annual report pegged San Diego’s provision of food stamps at the bottom of the heap nationwide.
We wanted to know if these were isolated incidents or examples of a larger pattern. With this in mind, we partnered with the Rose Institute of Local and State Government at Claremont McKenna College to take a wider look at county services and compare San Diego to California’s other major counties.
A team of Claremont McKenna students, guided by fellows and professors, spent months studying the 12 largest counties in the state. The completed report provided a look at a wide range of county services — including these public assistance programs we’d been tracking. The section of the Rose Institute report dedicated to these programs confirmed that there was indeed a strong trend across San Diego’s social welfare programs.
From there, we spent the next several months interviewing more than 100 sources and reading piles of court filings and studies. The resulting series seeks to explore the gaps in San Diego County’s safety net, the roots of those gaps and the impacts on the residents who need help.