DC Councilmembers Marion Barry and Yvette Alexander have introduced a bill that would apply the federal government's five-year lifetime limit on TANF participation to all the District of Columbia's public assistance programs.
Health insurance through Medicaid and the District's own health care program for low-income people, child care subsidies, housing vouchers, shelter and other services for homeless people. All these and more would be cut off at the end of a total of five years -- no matter what the circumstances.
The proposal would also eliminate the District's long-standing policy of allowing low-income families to stay in its TANF program until they achieve greater self-sufficiency or secure another form of income support such as the federal government's SSI benefits for people with severe disabilities.
Many current TANF recipients would be kicked out of the program before they could benefit from the improvements in work preparation opportunities and linkages to other services that another pending bill would initiate. They'd be on their own, with no other supports, in a depressed job market where opportunities for low-skill workers are few.
In short, the Barry Alexander proposal is a bad bill at the worst time. Tell the DC Council to reject it.
Photo credit: iprole
The bill would force District residents out of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program just when the Council is considering a bill that would improve the program's capacities to prepare participants for living wage employment.
Even more drastic, it would impose a five-year lifetime limit on all forms of public assistance. Low-income District residents would lose access to a wide range of critical, even life-saving public benefits and services.
Unlike the spending cuts that the Council may need to make now, the far-reaching cutbacks in B18-1061 would be permanent unless and until the DC Code was again amended.
In short, the District of Columbia Public Assistance Amendment Act is unnecessary, unwise and contrary to the inclusive community we aspire to be. Please oppose it and any similar proposal to impose time limits on receipt of public assistance now.