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Supplemental Security Income/State Supplementary Payment (SSI/SSP) grants are a critical source of income for well over 1 million California seniors and people with disabilities who have low incomes and need help paying for basic necessities, such as housing. Grants are funded with both federal (SSI) and state (SSP) dollars. The maximum monthly grant for an individual is about $944, which consists of an SSI grant of $783 and an SSP grant of $160.72.
To help close budget shortfalls during the Great Recession, the state made deep cuts to the SSP portion, reducing it from $233 per month in early 2009 to $156.40 per month by mid-2011. State policymakers increased the SSP grant by $4.32 per month starting in January 2017. However, no additional state grant increases have been provided since then, and the Governor’s proposed 2020-21 state budget assumes the SSP portion will remain frozen for another year.
Because state cuts largely remain in place, SSI/SSP recipients have less money to meet their basic needs, including housing. This is particularly concerning in light of California’s high housing costs. In all 58 California counties, the “Fair Market Rent” (FMR) for a studio apartment exceeds 50% of the maximum SSI/SSP grant for an individual. Moreover, the studio FMR exceeds the entire grant in 22 counties. People are at greater risk of becoming homeless when housing costs account for more than half of household income.