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  THE LOW INCOME & URBAN HOUSING BLOG  

Sunday, September 1, 2013

$30,000 Spent On Welfare Drug Testing, But Only 12 People Tested Positive -- What A Waste of Money!

Drug Testing Program For Low Income Housing Applicants

Recent legislation in the state of Utah has come under close scrutiny lately, particularly from low-income people seeking assistance through the state's Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. The controversy is over drug screening of applicants who apply for TANF benefits.

Under the legislation passed last year, applicants are required to complete a written test to determine their likelihood of using drugs. If the test is determined to indicate they show a high probability they are using controlled substances, they are required to take a drug test. Critics of the practice are viewing this as a violation of Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure and unfairly targeting the poor.

Critics include not only those being targeted but others who, as taxpayers, end up paying for the testing. The results? The state tested 466 applicants based on their written tests, and only 12 tested positive. That is 2.5 percent, far below the national rate of 8 percent. In addition, it costs the state taxpayers $31,000.

Perhaps this demonstrates a very good reason why only about 8 states are using this testing method. It's costly, produces little results, and unfairly targets the poor. Although the state said that only about half the people who were asked to take drug tests agreed, there might be good reasons why the other half refused that have nothing to do with their guilt but everything to do with their self respect.


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