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.
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