Public Assistance Program Beneficiaries

  • Federal anti-poverty programs primarily help the GOP’s base, By Ronald Brownstein, February 16, 2017, The Atlantic: “Even as congressional Republicans mobilize for a new drive to retrench federal anti-poverty efforts, whites without a college degree—the cornerstone of the modern GOP electoral coalition—have emerged as principal beneficiaries of those programs, according to a study released Thursday morning…”
  • The biggest beneficiaries of the government safety net: Working-class whites, By Tracy Jan, February 16, 2017, Washington Post: “Working-class whites are the biggest beneficiaries of federal poverty-reduction programs, even though blacks and Hispanics have substantially higher rates of poverty, according to a new study to be released Thursday by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities…”

Welfare Reform – Wisconsin

Scott Walker: Parents should work 80 hours per month to get food stamps, By Molly Beck, January 24, 2017, Wisconsin State Journal: “Gov. Scott Walker wants parents who receive food stamps to work at least 80 hours per month to continue to receive full benefits.  Walker made the announcement Monday in appearances around the state promoting changes dubbed ‘Wisconsin Works for Everyone’ that he plans to make to the state’s welfare programs.  One component would require parents with school-age children living at home to work to continue to receive full benefits through the state’s food stamp program known as FoodShare…”

SNAP Program and Online Shopping

Food stamp recipients will soon be able to order groceries online, By Maura Judkis, January 10, 2017, Washington Post: “Beginning this summer, some Americans who receive food assistance will have a new way to feed their families. The Agriculture Department said that it will test a program that allows people on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — SNAP, known as food stamps — to order groceries online through various retailers. The ability to shop online could bring healthful food into food deserts, low-income areas where fresh food is not readily available…”

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – Wisconsin

  • 21K employed through FoodShare jobs program, 64K lost benefits, By Molly Beck, January 11, 2017, Wisconsin State Journal: “About 21,000 Wisconsin residents using food stamps have gained employment through a state program designed to connect recipients with jobs, Gov. Scott Walker announced during his annual State of the State address Tuesday.  That’s the number of FoodShare recipients who have gotten jobs through the state program that was created when lawmakers reinstated a requirement that able-bodied adults without children at home be employed in order to keep FoodShare benefits…”
  • Official: Food stamp drug tests would violate federal law, By Jason Stein, January 11, 2017, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal to drug test some food stamp recipients violates federal law and cannot proceed without an act of Congress, a top appointee in the Obama administration says.  Wisconsin’s Republican governor has called on President-elect Donald Trump to act immediately on taking office to allow the Walker administration to start testing able-bodied recipients of Wisconsin’s Food Share program…”

Child Care Subsidies – California

For some workers, pay raise comes with loss of cheap child care, By Natalie Kitroeff, January 6, 2017, Los Angeles Times: “When the minimum wage in California rose to $10.50 an hour Jan. 1, more than a million people got a raise. But for an untold number of families across the state, that pay bump could price them out of child care.  This year, for the first time, two parents working full time at minimum wage jobs, with one child, will be considered too well off to qualify for state subsidies for day care and preschool. It’s been 10 years since the state set the threshold for who is poor enough to get the benefit, which is pegged to 2005 income levels…”

Child Care Subsidies – Maryland

Wealthy Maryland is poor in child-care subsidies, By Josh Hicks, December 22, 2016, Washington Post: “A group of Maryland lawmakers is pushing Gov. Larry Hogan (R) and the General Assembly to increase financial assistance for families struggling to cover child-care costs, noting that the state ranks among the least generous in the nation for such aid.  Advocates say state and federal funding levels for child-care subsidies are too low, forcing Maryland to restrict how many low-income families qualify for vouchers and greatly limiting which day-care centers those families can afford.  Adding to the financial pressure are new federal regulations that say states must subsidize child care at rates that allow parents to enroll their children in higher-priced programs, rather than only the cheapest…”

Cliff Effect of Public Assistance Programs

$15 minimum wage could squeeze workers on public assistance, By Katie Johnson, December 9, 2016, Boston Globe: “If it succeeds, a campaign to raise the Massachusetts minimum wage to $15 an hour could put more money in the pockets of low-income workers and create a path to self-sufficiency. But for some families, the boost in pay could mean a drop of hundreds of dollars a month in government benefits.  Food stamps, child care vouchers, and rent subsidies could be cut before families can afford to cover those expenses on their own, leaving some households, particularly single parents with young children, worse off despite a bigger paycheck — a phenomenon known as the ‘cliff effect…””

SNAP and Military Families

Should more troops become eligible for food stamps?, By Carl Prine, November 28, 2016, San Diego Union-Tribune: “Despite steep pay raises since the 9/11 terror attacks, too many military personnel still struggle to feed their families and need an easier way to get food stamps, according to a new bill from a San Diego congresswoman.  Susan Davis has introduced the Military Hunger Prevention Act in a bid to exempt the military’s Basic Allowance for Housing — a central component of most troops’ compensation — when determining eligibility for food stamps and 17 other federal food programs.  The legislation comes as food pantries and other charities said they continue to encounter strong demand from military households for their services…”

Child Care Subsidies – Connecticut

Child care subsidy saved for working parents in Care4Kids; most new families barred, By Josh Covner, November 29, 2016, Hartford Courant: “Working families who now receive a child care subsidy that helps parents keep their jobs can remain in Care4Kids under new state actions that cut a $6.1 million program-threatening deficit by more than half.  By closing Care4Kids to additional groups of new applicants, and applying extra money left over in a separate preschool program, the state can now renew subsidies for another year for all enrolled parents, officials said Tuesday…”

Child Care Subsidies – Connecticut

Child care subsidy for thousands of state’s working poor in danger, By Josh Kovner, November 16, 2016, Hartford Courant: “Elisha Larose takes home about $350 per week as a certified nurse’s aide in New Haven. Between rent, food, car insurance, medical bills, and utilities, the money is stretched thin for her and her 4-year-old son, Torraye.  She is making it, she says, with careful budgeting and the help of a child-care subsidy for working parents. She pays $48 per week for a pre-school center for Torraye that actually costs up to $297 a week.  But that subsidy is in jeopardy. It is provided through a program called Care4Kids that is $5.4 million in the red. The state has already closed the program to new applicants, and people whose year-long subsidy expires in the coming winter and spring may not be renewed…”

Welfare Reform – Kansas

More Kansans will drop from welfare rolls as requirements stiffen, By Andy Marso, November 11, 2016, Salina Post: “For Ashlyn Harcrow, the sound of the train whistle brings up all kinds of thoughts she’d like to avoid.  Harcrow, 24, has been living at the Topeka Rescue Mission since July. The nonprofit homeless shelter has helped her stabilize as she recovers from domestic violence and tries to improve her mental health amid post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety.  But the mission, at 600 N. Kansas Ave., is right next to the tracks. As trains rumble through north Topeka, they remind Harcrow that she’s thought about using those tracks to take her own life.  ‘All these trains that go by here,’ she says, ‘it don’t help.’  Harcrow would like to leave the mission and get her own place. But it’s a financial impossibility until she gets her mental health on track so she can return to the workforce…”

Public-Assistance Computer System – Rhode Island

69-page report details failings of public-assistance computer system, By Katherine Gregg, October 15, 2016, Providence Journal: “The hours-long wait times inside Rhode Island’s welfare offices, the inability to get through on phone lines and the deep ‘customer frustration’ with the troubled launch of the state’s new $364-million computer system are documented in a report the Raimondo administration provided to a federal agency on Friday.  The report spells out in detail, over 69 data-filled pages, the real-life problems faced in recent weeks by thousands of Rhode Islanders who rely on public-assistance benefits to buy food and pay for other basics, including one-hour, 40-minute wait times on the phone, and 2½-hour waits to talk to someone in person…”

SNAP Enrollment – New Jersey

Food stamp use down in N.J., but not as much as the rest of the U.S., By Susan K. Livio, September 16, 2016, NJ.com: “Reliance on food stamps dropped by 3 percent in New Jersey since last summer – six months after tougher rules took effect that required adults without children to work to receive their benefits, according to state data. There were 430,000 households on food stamps or what has been renamed Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, a 3 percent decline from last summer, state Human Services data said. Salem, Somerset and Hunterdon counties saw the biggest caseload declines…”

SNAP Program and Online Shopping

  • Why SNAP benefits could be going digital, By Christina Beck, September 15, 2016, Christian Science Monitor: “Online shopping has long been a boon for most Americans, whether they hate the scrutinizing stares of fellow shoppers, the chaos of big stores, or simply can’t get out the door. Soon, modifications to the federal food stamp program, SNAP, might make the benefits of online shopping available to some who could need it most: the many recipients who live in areas where there are fewer healthy grocery stores, known as ‘food deserts…'”
  • Federal food stamp program to test online shopping for recipients, By Greg Trotter, September 15, 2016, Chicago Tribune: “Starting next summer, Illinois residents on food stamps may be able to buy their groceries online through a two-year federal pilot program intended to increase food access for the poor.  Times, they are a’changin’, though faster for some than others. Online shopping has dramatically altered buying habits for most Americans in recent years, and now, the $75 billion federal food stamps program, officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, is moving toward making that option available to the 43 million or so people across the country receiving benefits…”

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – Michigan

Court: Michigan stiffed deserving people out of food aid, By Tresa Baldas, August 26, 2016, Detroit Free Press: “Over and over again, the computer rejected their names — and automatically cut off their food stamps.  Walter Barry, a 46-year-old mentally disabled Detroit man who lives with his mother, lost his public assistance when his name turned up in a fugitive database: His brother had stolen his name and used it as an alias when he was arrested about 25 years ago.  Identity theft victim Donitha Copeland, a onetime homeless woman, lost her food benefits when her name showed up in the same database: There was an outstanding warrant for her arrest for writing bad checks in Kalamazoo, though she had never been there…”

Career Pathways Program – Arkansas

This welfare reform program could be a model to help impoverished college students, By Danielle Douglas-Gabriel,  August 31, 2016, Washington Post: “When Will Bradford enrolled at Northwest Arkansas Community College in January 2015, it had been 15 years since he had stepped foot in a classroom. He had taken a few college classes after high school but dropped out in a matter of weeks.  ‘I just didn’t have the motivation,’ Bradford, 35, recalls. But with two young boys to care for, getting an education took on a new importance, especially if it meant earning more money. Even with his newfound motivation, Bradford was no less intimidated. ‘I was nervous about how much work would be involved and whether I was overdoing it with a full-time job, but a lot of it was just getting back into the school system,’ he said.  Enter Arkansas Career Pathways Initiative, a program funded by the federal welfare program, known as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or TANF, that provides academic and social services to low-income parents attending state community colleges and technical centers…”

Welfare Reform and Intergenerational Poverty

The major flaw in President Clinton’s welfare reform that almost no one noticed, By Max Ehrenfreund, August 30, 2016, Washington Post: “Shavonna Rentie’s father raised her on what he earned working at McDonald’s, along with welfare and food stamps. When she was 15, President Clinton signed a law that changed all of that, replacing welfare with a complex new system that fostered vocational training.  The new law encouraged Rentie’s father to go to school and become a mechanic. Seeing him get the job he wanted ‘pushed me to go for what I really want to be,’ Rentie said.  It was exactly as the writers of the law had planned: Welfare reform would help parents receiving welfare set a better example for their children. The children, in turn, would grow up with broader ambitions, free from the generational cycle of poverty and dependence on government — at least, that’s what policymakers intended…”

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

  • Food stamp use on the rise in Nebraska, unlike in Iowa and rest of U.S., By Barbara Soderlin, August 23, 2016, Omaha World-Herald: “The recession is in the rearview mirror, and the state’s unemployment rate is among the lowest in the nation, but the number of Nebraskans who rely on government assistance for groceries has been on the rise — heading in the opposite direction of Iowa and the rest of the country. People who work with poor families say they don’t expect the number of Nebraskans on food stamps to fall anytime soon: Low wages are driving the need for benefits, those people say. And better outreach is helping more people access benefits than in the past…”
  • Why food stamp fraud is ‘fairly rampant’ at corner stores in some Chicago neighborhoods, By Greg Trotter, August 19, 2016, Chicago Tribune: “Food stamp trafficking often begins with an innocuous question.  ‘Can I talk to you?’  Sami Deffala, who’s managed a corner store in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood for 13 years, said he hears that every day from customers vying for a private moment in hopes of using their Link cards to exchange SNAP benefits, the modern-day version of food stamps, for cash — an illegal practice called trafficking by federal regulators. And every day, Deffala said, he hears them out but refuses to take part in the scheme…”

Welfare Reform

  • 20 years since welfare’s overhaul, results are mixed, By Pam Fessler, August 22, 2016, National Public Radio: “Twenty years ago, welfare as Americans knew it ended. President Bill Clinton signed a welfare overhaul bill that limited benefits and encouraged poor people to find jobs.  ‘We’re going to make it all new again, and see if we can’t create a system of incentives which reinforce work and family and independence,’ Clinton said at a White House bill signing ceremony.  The goals were admirable: help poor families get into the workforce so they’d no longer need government aid. They’d get job training and support, such as help with child care.  But the results have been mixed…”
  • How welfare reform changed American poverty, in 9 charts, By Max Ehrenfreund, August 22, 2016, Washington Post: “Twenty years ago, President Clinton kept a promise. ‘I have a plan to end welfare as we know it,’ he said in a television spot during his campaign for office. He did, on Aug. 22, 1996.  The law that the president signed that day, together with other policies enacted by Congress and the states, profoundly changed the lives of poor Americans. It was intensely controversial at the time — a controversy that is heating up again today. New data on the hardships of poverty in the aftermath of the recent recession have exposed what critics say are shortcomings of welfare reform…”

SNAP Job Training Program – Baltimore, MD

New job training program targets food stamp recipients, By Lorraine Mirabella, August 15, 2016, Baltimore Sun: “A new state program aims to help Baltimore residents reduce their dependence on food stamps by training them for jobs that can lead to careers in manufacturing, green construction and health care.  About 260 low-skilled and under-educated people in the city are expected to receive training through a network of six workforce development groups in fiscal year 2017, officials with the state Department of Human Resources announced Monday…”