Its hard to believe it has been since 1990 that the basic welfare grant has been raised. This basic safety net for children and families needs to be raised .
Homeless Alliance research has shown that there is a preventative effect that accompanies the receipt of mainstream benefits like TANF, Food Stamps, and other income enhancing programs.
The basic TANF grant, which has not been increased by lawmakers since 1990, has fallen to less than 50% of the federal poverty level and is a significant factor in the high rate of poverty in Erie County. An entire generation of children has grown up since the last increase in the basic grant was approved as part of the state budget 18 years ago.
The basic welfare grant is now $291 a month for a family of three. Advocates are asking for the grant to be increased to $475 to reflect inflation of more than 60% since 1990 and then to have a commission examine how to raise the grant to a reasonable level in the future. The federal poverty level for a family of 3 is $17,170; for a family of 4, it is 20,650.
As representatives of homeless service providers from across Erie County, we are deeply concerned about the devastating impact that inadequate State funding for the basic Public Assistance (welfare) grant is having on families in Buffalo and Erie County. Today, after set-asides for landlords and utilities, many families have little or no money left to meet expenses for clothing, food, school supplies and other necessities.
The flip side of the holiday card is below.