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University of Wisconsin–Madison
Poverty-related issues in the news, from the Institute for Research on Poverty

Category: Assistance Programs

General Assistance Program – Pennsylvania

What happens when you reinstate an anti-poverty program and no one knows about it?, By Alfred Lubrano, August 28, 2018, Philadelphia Inquirer: “Hungry people, experts will tell you, are always silent. On Tuesday, they lined up in a quiet queue in the courtyard of St. Francis Inn Ministries in Kensington, awaiting breakfast under a sapping morning sun. Many of them were sharp and savvy from living on the street, but they nevertheless were unaware of some rare good news for people in poverty…”

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

  • About 2 million low-income Americans would lose benefits under House farm bill, study says, By Glenn Thrush, September 6, 2018, New York Times: “Nearly two million low-income Americans, including 469,000 households with young children, would be stripped of benefits under the House version of the farm bill being considered this week by congressional negotiators, according to an analysis by a nonpartisan research firm…”
  • As Trump targets food stamps, hunger around the U.S. remains high, By Aimee Picchi, September 6, 2018, CBS News: “President Donald Trump is praising the ‘Trump Economy,’ touting how its ‘booming’ numbers are a reason to add work requirements for food stamps. But new government research shows that hunger remains higher than it was before the Great Recession…”
  • Trump weighs in on SNAP work requirements ahead of farm bill meeting, By Brakkton Booker, September 5, 2018, National Public Radio: “With a deadline looming and pressure on lawmakers escalating, a large bipartisan, bicameral conference committee gathered on Capitol Hill Wednesday for the first formal negotiations of the Farm Bill…”

Immigrants and Public Benefit Programs

  • How Trump’s plan for immigrants on welfare could hurt a million New Yorkers, By Liz Robbins, August 13, 2018, New York Times: “Buying fresh vegetables for children, heating an apartment, using Medicaid to manage diabetes. Those are all legal means of support provided by the government for low-income residents of the United States. But a new rule in the works from the Trump administration would make it difficult, if not impossible, for immigrants who use those benefits to obtain green cards…”
  • As Trump considers penalties, Seattle-area immigrants turn down public benefits they’re entitled to claim, By Nina Shapiro, August 12, 2018, Seattle Times: “A hotel housekeeper with a working adult son, Hudith received food stamps that weren’t worth a lot — about $50 a month. But she was nervous. Though she was entitled to food stamps as a legal permanent resident from Mexico, and her three children were all born in the U.S., she heard from a friend that getting the benefit could be counted against her if she applied for citizenship. And she was planning to do just that. So she disenrolled…”

SNAP Job Training Programs and Work Requirements

  • This program is helping Kentucky’s food stamp recipients find jobs, By Tami Luhby, August 16, 2018, CNN: “Marsha Moses was more interested in working with blood than burgers. The Corbin, Kentucky, mother of two found herself on the job market after her husband was laid off last year and the family’s finances spiraled downward. She was concerned that she’d be forced to work in a fast food restaurant since she only had a high school degree and hadn’t been employed in several years. Then she found Paths 2 Promise, which provides food stamp recipients with job training and support…”
  • Georgia experiments with food stamp work training program, By Susanna Capelouto, August 13, 2018, Marketplace: “At a body shop in Atlanta, Leigh Anne Hatfield just finished taking apart the front of an SUV. ‘This is a brand new Toyota Highlander. Got smacked in the front,’ she said. Hatfield  said she loves her job here at the body shop. It’s her first job since she become a certified welder. A few month ago she was so poor, she had to apply for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP or food stamps…”
  • Michigan will require people to work for food assistance, By Marc Daalder, August 16, 2018, Detroit Free Press: “The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is sending more than 67,000 letters this week to people on food assistance who will soon be required to start working. The work requirements, which were already reimplemented in 14 counties, will snap back into place on Oct. 1 for the rest of the state…”

Summer Meal Programs – Maine

Summer meals take the edge off persistent child hunger in Maine, By Gillian Graham, August 5, 2018, Portland Press Herald: “Michelle McKinney was on her way home from picking up food at a Sanford food pantry when someone mentioned the free lunches served every weekday at schools and parks across the city. The news could not have been more welcome for the young mother and her husband, who are trying to stretch their single income to cover their $681 monthly rent, $400 car payment and groceries. For their children, it’s just another picnic in the park.

Public Assistance Programs

  • The outsize hold of the word ‘welfare’ on the public imagination, By Emily Badger, August 6, 2018, New York Times: “The federal program known as welfare delivers cash assistance to less than 1 percent of the United States population. This is far smaller than the share of those aided by food stamps, or by other government support like disability benefits, unemployment insurance, college grants and medical benefits. But none of those other social programs have captured the public imagination or pervaded American politics as thoroughly as welfare, a piece of the safety net that helps about 2.5 million people. Its outsize influence has remained — and could soon become larger — even as the program itself has shrunk to its smallest size…”
  • What we know about Trump’s proposal to punish immigrants who receive public benefits, By Nora Gámez Torres and Brenda Medina, August 9, 2018, Miami Herald: “Reports that the Trump administration is preparing to deny U.S. citizenship to immigrants who receive any sort of income-based public assistance have unleashed a wave of concern in South Florida. But the plan has not been approved yet, the published reports are confusing and it could be months before any change related to public benefits and immigration could be approved and take effect…”
  • Plan to punish immigrants for using welfare could boost G.O.P. candidates, By Michael D. Shear and Ron Nixon, August 7, 2018, New York Times: “The Trump administration is advancing a plan to punish legal immigrants for accepting food stamps, public housing and other government benefits they are entitled to — a strategy that appeals to conservatives and could help to galvanize Republican voters before the midterm elections…”
  • Sacramento welfare investigators track drivers to find fraud. Privacy group raises red flags, By Kellen Browning, August 10, 2018, Sacramento Bee: “Police in recent years have tapped into a vast database of license plate images to track drivers and solve crimes. Few people know, however, that Sacramento County welfare fraud investigators have been using that same data since 2016…”

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

  • Trump calls on Congress to attach work requirements to food stamps, By Caitlin Dewey, August 2, 2018, Washington Post: “President Trump on Thursday expressed support for House Republicans’ plan to tighten food-stamp work requirements, pressing Senate Republicans to adopt the provision even though it would probably doom a major bill’s chances of passing their chamber…”
  • New Yorkers can still use food stamps at farmers markets under new agreement, By Bethany Bump, July 303, 2018, Albany Times Union: “Nearly 3 million New Yorkers who receive food stamps can continue to use them at farmers markets around the state following a new agreement the state reached with a software technology company…”

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

  • Changes to food stamps could deny benefits to thousands, By Alfred Lubrano, July 23,2018, Philadelphia Inquirer: “For Ceyeissha McKim, it’s all pretty simple: ‘If I lose food stamps, I don’t survive,’ said McKim, 26, a mother of three and a professional caregiver who works 25 to 30 hours a week in West Grove, Chester County. Her eligibility for food stamps could one day disappear, thanks to proposed changes in the benefits program, known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP…”
  • Food-stamp use is still at recession-era levels despite job gains, By Reade Pickert and Alan Bjerga, July 19. 2018, Chicago Tribune: “Judging by the number of Americans on food stamps, it doesn’t feel like one of the best job markets in almost a half century and the second-longest economic expansion on record. Enrollment in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, better known as food stamps, fell to 39.6 million in April, the most recent government data show. That’s down from a record 47.8 million in 2012, but as a share of the population it’s just back to where it was as the economy emerged from the longest and deepest downturn since the Great Depression…”
  • Why crackdown fears may keep legal immigrants from food stamps, By Teresa Wiltz, July 24, 2018, Stateline: “It’s that time of the week — food pantry day — and before the doors even open at the Spanish Catholic Center, the patrons begin queueing up, lugging roller carts and empty grocery bags, the line stretching out onto the hot sidewalk. Immigrants all, they hail from the Congo and Costa Rica, from Nicaragua and El Salvador, from Togo and Vietnam. Most are seniors. And all of them, they say, are afraid…”

Safety Net Programs and Work Requirements

Is the war on poverty ‘a success,’ as the Trump administration proclaims?, By Alfred Lubrano, July 27, 2018, Philadelphia Inquirer: “Nearly 1 percent of all the people in poverty in the United States live in Philadelphia — one out of every 100 impoverished Americans. Simple math explains that stark story: Nationwide, around 40 million people are at or below the poverty line, $21,000 annual salary for a family of three. Here, in a city of 1.5 million people where the poverty rate is 26 percent, the highest among the country’s biggest cities, there are nearly 400,000 residents living in poverty. That’s why it surprised people in Philadelphia to hear the Trump administration declare this month: ‘Our War on Poverty is largely over and a success…’”

Safety Net Programs and Work Requirements

  • The Trump administration has a new argument for dismantling the social safety net: It worked., By Jeff Stein and Tracy Jan, July 14, 2018, Washington Post: “Republicans for years have proclaimed the federal government’s decades-old War on Poverty a failure. ‘Americans are no better off today than they were before the War on Poverty began in 1964,’ House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) wrote in his 2016 plan to dramatically scale back the federal safety net. Now the Trump administration is pitching a new message on anti-poverty programs, saying efforts that Republicans had long condemned as ineffective have already worked. The White House in a report this week declared the War on Poverty ‘largely over and a success,’ arguing that few Americans are truly poor — only about 3 percent of the population — and that the booming economy is the best path upward for those who remain in poverty…”
  • 7,000 people fail to meet Arkansas Medicaid work requirement, By Andrew DeMillo, July 13, 2018, Associated Press: “More than 7,000 people on Arkansas’ Medicaid expansion didn’t meet a requirement that they report at least 80 hours of work in June and face the threat of losing their coverage if they fail to comply sometime before the end of this year, state officials said Friday…”

Safety Net Programs and Work Requirements

  • Mississippi Medicaid adds back beneficiary protections in work requirement proposal, By Anna Wolfe, July 6, 2018, Mississippi Clarion Ledger: “In an attempt to avoid pushback states have received on Medicaid work requirements, Mississippi reinstated beneficiary protections into its waiver proposal. A Medicaid waiver is a state request to the federal government to deviate from various program requirements. Mississippi is one of several states that has asked the Trump administration for permission to impose work requirements on low-income, able-bodied caretakers otherwise eligible for Medicaid…”
  • As Arkansas ushers in new Trump-era Medicaid rules, thousands fear losing benefits, Reuters, July 10, 2018, CNBC: “Gregory Tyrone Bryant left his last stable job at a meatpacking factory to fight a cocaine addiction eight years ago. When he returned to the workforce a year later, his options were limited: mostly temporary jobs without healthcare benefits. Since 2014, he’s relied on medical coverage offered under Arkansas’ expanded Medicaid program for low-income households…”
  • Food stamp work requirements would force states to provide job training. Many aren’t ready., By Teresa Wiltz, July 10, 2018, Stateline: “The House version of the food-stamp-to-work program Congress is considering this week would require recipients to enroll in job training programs if they can’t find work — but in many states, those programs won’t be fully available for at least another decade. This will have a big impact on the people who depend on food stamps, some 42 million in 2017. The average beneficiary receives about $125 a month, and a family of four must have an annual income of about $25,000 or less to qualify. Many are already working…”
  • Declaring war on poverty ‘largely over,’ White House urges work requirements for aid, By Jim Tankersley and Margot Sanger-Katz, July 12, 2018, New York Times: “President Trump’s Council of Economic Advisers declared on Thursday that America’s long-running war on poverty ‘is largely over and a success,’ as it made the case for imposing new work requirements on Americans who benefit from federal safety net programs. The report contends that millions of Americans have become overly reliant on government help — and less self-sufficient — and provided data intended to support the administration’s goal of tying public benefit programs more closely to work…”

SNAP and Farmers Markets

Some food stamp recipients may soon lose access to farmers market benefits, By Jane Black and Leah Douglas, July 9, 2018, Washington Post: “On Saturday morning, Ludy Arnold arrived at the H Street farmers market in Northeast Washington just minutes after it opened. Arnold is 70 and lives in nearby public housing for seniors. She comes every week, and has for the past four years, to buy fruit, greens and summer tomatoes with benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps. That allowance is boosted by matching dollars, provided by a nonprofit group, so that Arnold has $20 to spend each week. ‘I only have my Social Security,’ she said. ‘So this is how I get my food. I depend on it.’ But technical difficulties may put an end to Arnold’s weekly shopping here…”

SNAP Participation – California

Why millions of Californians eligible for food stamps don’t get them, By Anna Gorman and Harriet Rowan, May 1, 2018, National Public Radio: “Millions of low-income Californians eligible for food stamps are not receiving the benefit, earning the state one of the lowest rankings in the nation for its participation in the program. Just three states — Utah, North Dakota and Wyoming — have lower rates of participation, according to the latest available federal data released this year. Meanwhile, California is among the leaders on enrollment in Medi-Cal, the state’s version of Medicaid, which also serves people living in low-income households…”

Welfare Reform

  • Wisconsin is the GOP model for ‘welfare reform.’ But as work rules grow, family faces the hard reality, By Robert Samuels, April 23, 2018, Northwest Herald: “The shock absorbers in James Howlett’s Ford Fusion were busted, but he and his partner, Nadine, packed their two children inside anyway. They were already homeless, and their time on food stamps was running out. They needed to fix the car and dig up documents to try to get back on welfare. The suburban homeless shelter where they slept the night before was now in the distance as they made their way through the familiar blight of the city neighborhood that was once home. Howlett dropped Kayden, 5, at kindergarten and Cali, 3, at day care in a community center that stood amid the boarded-up houses and vacant fields surrounded by barbed wire that dot Milwaukee’s north side. That’s when he found himself gripped by a new worry: His run-down Ford might be another barrier to government assistance…”
  • Farm bill creates latest push for ‘welfare reform’, By Jessica Wehrman, April 22, 2018, Columbus Dispatch: “Republicans’ next big push for ‘welfare reform’ comes courtesy of a bill designed to pay for the nation’s farm programs. The federal farm bill, which expires on Oct. 1, is aimed at providing federal support to farmers who may need it during tough times. But roughly 80 percent of the bill goes to federal food assistance, also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. That typically makes the bill’s passage a bipartisan affair, with urban and rural lawmakers joining forces to both help feed the poor and to keep farmers facing financial difficulty from being driven out of business entirely. But this year’s bill has been different. Instead, to Democrats’ fury, House Republicans see the farm bill as an opportunity to take a crack at revamping SNAP, formerly known as food stamps…”

SNAP and Job Training

Can $1 billion help low-income Americans find jobs?, By Tami Luhby, April 20, 2018, CNN Money: “$1 billion a year for job training sure sounds like a lot of money. That’s how much Congressional Republicans want to give states to help food stamp recipients find work. It’s a huge increase over the $90 million in federal funding that currently flows to state training programs for those in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, as food stamps is formally known…”

Assistance Programs and Work Requirements

  • Trump executive order strengthens work requirements for neediest Americans, By Tracy Jan, April 10, 2018, Washington Post: “President Trump on Tuesday signed an executive order directing federal agencies to strengthen existing work requirements and introduce new ones for low-income Americans receiving Medicaid, food stamps, public housing benefits and welfare as part of a broad overhaul of government assistance programs…”
  • Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signs new limits on welfare programs into law, By Jason Stein, April 10, 2018, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on Tuesday signed new limits on welfare programs into law, committing state and federal taxpayers to nearly $80 million in spending to draw more people into the labor force…”

Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program

Federal heating aid program saved, expanded in Trump budget, By David Sharp (AP), March 24, 2018, Spokesman-Review: “A federal heating aid program for low-income residents has survived another attempt by President Donald Trump to kill it. The $1.3 trillion spending bill signed by Trump on Friday includes $3.64 billion for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. The energy assistance funding includes an extra $250 million, the first increase in five years…”

Assistance Programs and Work Requirements

  • Proposed work requirements could add uncertainties to Wisconsin’s Medicaid system, By Guy Boulton, March 28, 2018, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Wisconsin is among the 10 states that want to impose work requirements on some healthy adults who get health insurance through their Medicaid programs. However, unlike Kentucky, Indiana and Arkansas, which have received federal approval for work requirements that they plan to implement immediately, Wisconsin’s requirement wouldn’t kick in until a healthy adult hasn’t worked for four straight years…”
  • Republicans’ new welfare reform focus: Low-income men, By Tami Luhby, March 28, 2018, CNN Money: “A generation ago, Republicans focused on reforming the nation’s safety net by requiring poor mothers to work. These days, the Trump administration and Republican leaders are once again looking to overhaul government assistance programs. But now they are zeroing in on a new group: low-income men.  Much of the focus this time centers on requiring able-bodied, working age recipients to get jobs or participate in other community activities if they want to receive Medicaid or food stamps — two of the largest public aid programs in the US with tens of millions of enrollees each…”
  • WV Gov. Justice quietly signs SNAP work requirement bill, By Jake Zuckerman, March 27, 2018, Charleston Gazette-Mail: “Gov. Jim Justice signed a bill into law Tuesday that will impose work requirements on certain adults receiving benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program…”

Welfare Reform

  • Would new limits on food stamps help or hurt children? Missouri lawmakers disagree, By Tessa Weinberg, March 14, 2018, Kansas City Star: “As Republican lawmakers push bills to tighten access to the state’s welfare programs, their critics worry one group of Missourians could be hurt the most: low-income children. A handful of bills would put greater restrictions on people receiving aid through federal welfare programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as SNAP, or food stamps…”
  • Missouri House supports bill adding welfare program restrictions, By Suman Naishadham, March 15, 2018, Columbia Missourian: “House members approved new restrictions and penalties for individuals who use two welfare programs on Thursday, despite impassioned arguments the move will create unfair financial hardships for those who rely on the funding…”
  • Trump’s vow on welfare faces an uncertain future, By Glenn Thrush, March 15, 2018, New York Times: “In his State of the Union speech two months ago, President Trump vowed to end welfare as he defined it, heralding a plan to force recipients off federal housing vouchers, food assistance and Medicaid if they were not willing to do ‘a hard day’s work.’ Days before the speech, as part of the plan, several federal departments took steps to impose the stricter work requirements on able-bodied adults receiving noncash aid. The move could result in the loss of subsistence benefits for as many as four million poor, single adults over the next few years, experts say. But Mr. Trump’s effort faces an uncertain future…”