In 2009, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) provided a much needed increase in funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps. However, that temporary increase in benefits will expire in November. This upcoming loss of funding has some people worried, especially since Congress is currently considering further cuts.
SNAP remains a rather popular and effective program. According to a new poll by the Food Research and Action Center, 70% of voters are opposed to cutting SNAP benefits in order to reduce spending. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) recently posted a series of Facts on SNAP, and their analysis shows:
- SNAP provides a modest benefit to families with very low incomes, with two-thirds of recipients being elderly, disabled or children. (In Oklahoma, the CBPP reports that 75% of SNAP families include children and 26% are families with elderly or disabled members.)
- SNAP families are largely working families, and of the households with able bodied adults, 58% are working when they receive SNAP and 82% work within a year of receiving SNAP.
- SNAP is also efficient, with the rate of error and overpayment at an all-time low.
- The size of the SNAP program is designed to grow and shrink based on the rate of poverty and unemployment, and because of this design it quickly responded to the needs of low-income families during the recession.
Cuts in funding due to the expiration of the Recovery Act alone will mean that the nearly 17% of Oklahomans, or approximately 652,000 people, who currently receive SNAP assistance (more…)
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News about high rent and cuts to housing programs keep grabbing my attention. Three weeks ago, NPR took a look at the personal toll sequestration is taking on people struggling to secure affordable housing. Sequester Puts Some Needing Housing Aid ‘Back To Square One’ tells the story of two people who waited years to receive their housing voucher, only to have them rescinded due to budget cuts.
One young woman spent seven years on the waitlist for assistance. While she waited, she lost her job, and then her housing. Word eventually came that she was approved for a voucher, but before she was able to secure housing it was revoked due to budget cuts. A Virginia man waited ten years for a voucher. He was finally scheduled for an interview with the housing authority, but it too was canceled due budget concerns. He continues to live on the street.
These dashed hopes are an outcome of sequestration, but the long wait times are part of a bigger problem. As mentioned in another NPR story, recent cuts came on top of a 25% cut to voucher programs in January of 2012.
Both NPR reports, and other sources, have supplied details on how housing authorities around the country are dealing with the loss of funding.
- In Connecticut, the city of Hartford rescinded 88 newly issued vouchers.
- Fort Worth, Texas rescinded 99 vouchers for families who had not yet signed a lease.
- In Minnesota, 160 vouchers were put on hold. (more…)
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A couple of weeks ago I posted about the lack of affordable rental housing for families with low-income. In essence, there is no state in the country where fair market rent is affordable for a single worker at minimum wage. A partial solution to this crisis is provided by federal housing assistance, through vouchers or public housing. However there are often waiting lists for these programs, as the demand outpaces the availability of funds.
Now, a recently released paper, authored by Douglas Rice of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), lays out what sequestration cuts will mean for families who are either currently receiving housing assistance or on the waitlist. The extremely short version is that state and federal agencies will probably have to cut assistance to about 140,000 families by early 2014 – and that just represents funding cuts for Housing Choice Vouchers, sometimes referred to as Section 8 Vouchers. The chart below gives a more detailed look at the cuts to vouchers, public housing, homeless assistance and other housing programs.
In Oklahoma, some of the pressure is already being felt by the agencies that receive and distribute federal housing assistance. The Muskogee Phoenix reported in March that the Muskogee Housing Authority is expecting a $153,000 decrease in funds for Section 8 vouchers and an additional $167,000 decrease in funds for public housing programs. While the housing authority has (more…)
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