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2nd February
written by naehblog

This morning, a little news clip from the Spokeman Review (WA) caught my eye. The title read: “State assistance terminated for 5,000 families.”

For months now, the Alliance and like-minded interest groups had warned against the impact of the recession on state budgets. (In fact, Nan discussed it in the Washington Post after the release of The State of Homelessness in America.)

States, already feeling pressure on their financial resources, strained to meet the needs of the increasing number of people and families seeking public assistance as they experienced job loss, unemployment, and other economic distress as a result of the recession.

And now, at least in Washington state, it seems that the pressure has finally come to a hilt. The state has decided to reduce their TANF program by 15 percent – cutting nearly 5,000 families off welfare.

Clearly this is exactly the wrong time to deny struggling families the resources they need to avoid economic turmoil – like homelessness. While the recession may be over in theory, communities across the country can testify to the increased – and sometimes still increasing – number of people seeking charitable as they continue to struggle.

And frankly, we all saw it coming. The Alliance examined state budgets in the research newsletter last fall, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities published a number of briefs about TANF and the Emergency Contingency Fund, and on this very blog, we asked you to support the extension of TANF ECF, a small, effective, and efficient federal program helping people find jobs, avoid homelessness, and support their families. Certainly, we could’ve headed this off with the right programs.

Because Washington will not be the last place where families are denied public assistance because the state can no longer provide it. Indeed, Washington will likely be the first of many states to turn families away, leaving those families at risk of homelessness and more economic misfortunes.

This is precisely why we need your help! You can start by reading  more about our advocacy work and signing up for our action alerts.

Photo courtesy of billaday.



  1. 03/02/2011

    As a low income single mom who raised my kids in poverty on McJobs, I am a long time advocate for low income families. I personally know of the hardships and discrimination the low income encounter when it comes to jobs, housing and other necessities. I have done the math and testified before my own legislatures with no rebuttal to what I am telling you about the following that would save millions while helping millions: if we are to cut anything, cut CPS, CASA and family court, who face few of any cuts but already get hundreds of millions in funding from Title IV and then go in and take additional TANF, Disability, Medicaid and food stamps. DHS agencies spend literally literally 1000 times more to destroy intact families than it would take to support families. They then permanently take kids and adopt them out because of conditions of poverty while refusing to assist their birth families in desperate need. They do this because Title IV funding is based on how many kids are taken and they lose funding if they return them home. This is beyond disgusting. Many states are cutting assistance to the disabled and families while leaving this funding in place with no cuts. This is not just WA State doing this because caveats in Title IV (Social Security Entitlements) mandates this situation for any state taking this funding (except FL and CA who do have caveats, but CA is not using them). Here is some information you can access with contacts who have done the numbers; Consider talking to Richard Wexler there, for years he has “been there done that” about this funding and the horrible consequences it creates. Also see this website where some scrappy low income women have “done the math” when all others, including the government, refuse to do so: . Then consider “if it is happening there, it is happening in my state, I just do not know about it because nobody else is watching …”

    Cat Sullivan, Welfare Advocate Seattle and Olympia, WA

  2. [...] office were the local news stories about cuts to social services. You might’ve caught our post a couple days ago about Washington state’s decision to kick 5,000 families off their TANF program. Like we [...]