Letters to the Editor

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AID: The safety net for poor is minimal

Letter by Debbie Regala, Tacoma on Sep. 4, 2012 at 1:33 pm | 7 Comments »
September 4, 2012 2:00 pm

A recent letter writer stated that “those who don’t (won’t) work get by about as well as those who do” (TNT, 8-25).

Readers may be interested to know the eligibility requirements and benefit levels of assistance programs.

To qualify for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (welfare), a parent with two children (the average TANF family) must have an annual income less than $7,000 (35 percent of the federal poverty level). They receive cash assistance of no more than $479 per month.

To receive the assistance, parents are required to work or participate in mandated activities that will lead to a job. The assistance is temporary – no more than 60 months in a lifetime.

To qualify for food stamps, a typical family of three can have an annual income no greater than $31,000.

Supplemental Security Income is limited to those unable to work due to a physical or mental disability. Assets may not exceed $2,000 (excluding any home already owned). A single person receives $698 per month.

It is important to know these programs are only available to U.S. citizens, and legal immigrants must wait five years before being able to apply for citizenship.

Those receiving housing subsidies in our area have an average annual income below $13,000. More than 80 percent of those served are elderly, disabled or children. The need for housing assistance is so much greater than the number who can be served, that the wait for a public housing unit exceeds one year and the wait for a housing voucher exceeds four years.

Few would voluntarily chose this lifestyle.

(Regala is a state senator representing Tacoma’s 27th Legislative District.)

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