Human Services

Take Action Now: Food Stamp Work Requirements Will Harm People with Criminal Records Trying to Build New Lives

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The following is a guest blog post from Sharon M. Dietrich, Community Legal Services of Philadelphia Litigation Director. The post originally appeared on their website here.

Proposals to toughen work requirements to qualify for SNAP benefits (food stamps) are all the rage.  Even in areas of high unemployment, low income people without children and who are not considered disabled would be permitted to receive SNAP for only 3 out of 36 months, unless they were working 20 hours per week.  The proposals are under consideration by Congress (for the Farm Bill), the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Pennsylvania General Assembly (HB 1659).

These work requirements would lead to loss of SNAP and to food insecurity among many low income Americans not fortunate enough to have work.  But one population would be especially hurt: people with criminal records.(link is external) One out of three(link is external) American adults has a criminal record.

Proposed Elimination of the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG)

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The following is a guest post from Steven Martinez, Communications Director at the Community Action Association of Pennsylvania:

Winners and Losers

Governor Wolf decided yesterday to allow the latest Republican budget to become law. We were hoping he would veto it.

PA to Expand Medicaid beyond Healthy PA

Yesterday, the Wolf administration announced that it is changing the state's course on Medicaid expansion. Under Governor Corbett, Pennsylvania was to have a Medicaid-light expansion, which expanded coverage for low-income folks, but through private insurers.

Governor Wolf's administration is scrapping this proposal and shifting people who were receiving private coverage to public coverage. This move is supposed to make the coverage options more streamlined and the process less complex for folks covered under the plan.

Punxsutawney Phil and Governor Corbett

I published a commentary this week on Governor Corbett's 2014-15 budget proposal this week in the Allentown Morning Call. Check it out.

Punxsutawney Phil is predicting more chilly weather ahead, but a winter-weary Gov. Tom Corbett must have spring on his mind. His budget address Tuesday painted a bright and rosy picture of Pennsylvania's future even as we remain in the grip of a long economic winter.

Cut to Federal Food Aid Impacts Families and Children in Every PA County

A major funding cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) took effect November 1, impacting 1.8 million Pennsylvanians.

SNAP, formerly known as food stamps, is our nation’s first line of defense against hunger and a powerful tool to help keep families out of poverty. Benefits are modest, offering many Pennsylvania families a crucial bridge in this slow economic recovery.

Public Benefit Programs Encourage Work

A few weeks ago, Sharon Ward explained the many problems with a report from the Cato Institute suggesting it's great to be poor in the United States. Today, Sandy Strauss and Peter Zurflieh, the co-chairs of a coalition working to improve the lives of Pennsylvania's low-income families, have a letter to the editor in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review setting the record straight about the Cato study. They do a nice job of explaining how public benefits encourage low-income people to go to work and keep at it:

Public benefit programs don't discourage work. Both SNAP (food stamps) and Medicaid, for example, offer work incentive deductions from earned income to encourage work. In 2011, 86 percent of low-income children receiving Medicaid or CHIP were in working families. More than half of able-bodied adults in households with children receiving SNAP work.

Reports like Cato's unfairly portray low-wage earners and persons living in poverty as lazy and waiting for the next government handout. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Life on Welfare: Cato Gets It Very Wrong

It’s great to be poor. That’s the finding of a Cato Institute report released this week claiming to calculate the value of all public benefits received by the typical welfare household. This methodologically flawed study is another of the bows in the 47% quiver. It is particularly timely — and damaging — given the ongoing debate over federal nutrition assistance, which the U.S.

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