Read this week’s federal update for the latest on:
Fourteen States Sue Administration over Proposed SNAP Rule, Plus New Study Released
Fourteen states, as well as the District of Columbia and New York City, are suing the Trump administration for its proposed rule that could jeopardize food stamp benefits for an estimated 688,000 adults. The rule, which applies exclusively to able-bodied adults without dependents, would implement stricter work requirements and time limits for the food stamp program, also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Currently, 36 states and localities with high unemployment legally waive time limits. The new rule would make it more difficult for jurisdictions to receive these waivers, potentially forcing people off food stamps in places with little access to jobs. Unless halted in the courts, this rule will go into effect in April and is part of a wider effort underway by the Trump administration to limit participation in the SNAP program.
Mathematica, a prominent consultancy, released a new study on households that participated in the SNAP program in 2018. According to the report, 39.7 million people from 19.7 million households received food stamps each month on average. Most SNAP households lived in poverty or deep poverty, with 81% below the federal poverty line and 38% at or below half of the federal poverty line—the latter received 55% of all SNAP benefits. Altogether, these households earned an average monthly income of $844 and received $255 in SNAP benefits per month. Of SNAP households, 81% included a child, elderly individual, or person with disability. The total cost of the program in fiscal year 2018 was $64.9 billion.
HUD’s Annual Homelessness Report Shows Mixed Results
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released its annual report on homelessness for 2019. Every January, local HUD agencies and volunteers in 3,000 cities and counties spend one night visiting emergency shelters, transitional housing programs, and unsheltered sites in order to get a “snapshot” estimate of homelessness in America. The 2019 report concludes that the homeless population increased to 567,715 nationwide, continuing an upward trend from 2017 after six consecutive years of declines. California’s homeless population growth outnumbered the increase in all other states combined. HUD Secretary Ben Carson said that California’s homeless situation is at “crisis level” and noted the skyrocketing cost of housing in the state. However, not all was pessimistic in the report. The number of families with children experiencing homelessness decreased by 5%. Further, the number of unaccompanied homeless youth and children declined 3.6%.
New Annual Report on Child Abuse and Neglect
The Administration for Children and Families released its annual child maltreatment report based on data from fiscal year 2018. The data was collected through the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System, part of the Children’s Bureau. It showed that, nationwide, more than 678,000 children were determined to be victims of child abuse or neglect in 2018, which was up by about 4,000 over the previous year. Children ages 0-1 had the highest rate of victimization at 26.7 per 1,000 children. Children of color also experienced higher victimization rates of 15.2 per 1,000 children.
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