D.C. Department of Human Resources director Albert P. Russo yesterday applauded President Carter's program for overhauling the national welfare system and at the same time announced plans for an intensive study of the programs's potential impact on aid programs here.
Russo said that if the President's proposals are approved by Congress as submitted, "we will have order restored out of chaos," Although many aspects of the program remain to be developed, its "concept and philosophy are sound," Russo said.
At Mayor Walter E. Washington's direction, Russo called for a meeting of his top aides today to begin analyzing the program's possible effect on jobs, training, day care, Medicaid and other city assistance programs. The District of Columbia frequently has been cited by U.S. monitoring agencies in recent years as the most deficient jurisdiction in administering some federal aid programs.
The District has 31,316 cases under 108,000 individuals, or one out of every seven D.C. residents.
Russo said one major task for the DHR study group will be to determine how many of those families fit the three income support and work benefit categories defined in Carter's proposals.
Another important assignment for the group will be to assess the validity of federal estimates that the District will receive $36 million a year in fiscal relief under the Carter plan.
According to 1975 statistics included in the President's reform package, direct cost to the city for welfare expenditures would be reduced by 56 per cent, the largest share of any jurisdiction in the country.
Washington's entirely urban population denies it the moderating effects of rural and suburban areas common to most states, which tend to lower the percentage of welfare recipients.
The urban characteristics of the city often have worked against it in other federal programs. For example, determined by a jurisdiction's median income, has been kept at the minimum of about 50 per cent her because the city has a high per capita income, Russo's deputy William H. Whitehurst Jr., said.
"This is one occasion where it's to the District's advantage to be in the unique role or stage, county and city (in relation to the federal government)," Russo said.
Russo declined to predict how the reform plan would effect jobs in his agency's 10,000 employee bureaucracy. However, M. Carl Holman, president of the National Urban Coalition, said the plan "ultimately will get rid of some of the bureaucracy for cash payments.
"One of the real problems is that so much of welfare money goes to the people who run it," said Holman, who is chairman of a City Council task force studying reorganization of DHR.
Holman gave the Carter plan qualified approval. While citing potential problems, such as possible competition among welfare recipients, low-income and illegal alien applicants, for a proposed 1.4 million public service jobs, Holman said the plan clearly is on the way to getting rid of an "inequitable and demeaning" welfare system.
Holman said he expects the Council task force to consider the reform plan in its analyses, scheduled for completion by the end of this year.
Russo said that the DHR panel will "proceed on the basis of what conditions are today in DHR," and without regard to possible reshaping by theCouncil.