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  THE LOW INCOME & URBAN HOUSING BLOG  

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

More Than 6,000 Low Income Families in D.C. Will Lose Their Welfare Benefits in 2017

Low income family

Most people welcome a new year with promises of better things to come. But for thousands of welfare recipients in Washington, D.C., it's a different story. For them, 2017 may be their worst year yet. Why? They are going to lose their welfare benefits.
Coming to an end

D.C. is reshaping its public assistance program. Beginning in October of 2017, those who have been on welfare for more than 60 months will be cut off. This affects about 5,700 families and 12,000 children currently, but the number is expected to grow to more than 6,500 by late next year.

Extension eligibility

Extensions have been presented for review, but unless they are approved, many poor residents of D.C. will stop receiving welfare benefits next Fall. The extensions include “children, customers who are caring for a household member who is physically or mentally incapacitated, customers dealing with domestic violence, pregnant or parenting teens who meet certain conditions” and “a parent or caretaker who is 60 years or older.” according to a study group. These extensions have been presented for approval but have not yet been acted on and could change.

Prior to 1996, the federal welfare program, Aid to Families With Dependent Children, ensured that eligible recipients could remain on the welfare rolls for unlimited periods, even their entire lives.

But in 1996...

President Bill Clinton created a program called Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). The new welfare program had stricter rules for eligibility. Just about every state in the U.S. restructured their state welfare program to match since it is funded by the federal government. D.C. did not, which means welfare recipients in D.C. had more generous welfare benefits than they would receive in most other states.

Because D.C. never restructured their state welfare program to match TANF rules, which states that people can only be on welfare for 60 months, D.C. has spent millions of dollars of local tax revenue every year so they can provide assistance to welfare recipients who aren’t eligible for the federal money.

Now in 2017...

The city of Washington, DC has decided to restructure its welfare system to comply with the 60-months cutoff, but has also included in its plan hardship extensions.

Many fear the results will be disastrous and include an drastic increase in homelessness. It will especially affect women and children, as most of the 6,297 recipients are women, mostly single mothers in their early 30s.

For more details about the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, visit www.benefits.gov/benefits/benefit-details/613


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