Benefits for DC Families

By LIFT on July 6, 2015

Categories: News, Our Work


In recent years, the nation’s capital “has been enjoying a prolonged economic boom.” An exodus of young professionals into the city and new restaurants and shops emerging at every corner are characteristics of a thriving district. However, a number of DC residents are not reaping the benefits of this. Jobs are currently unstable and federal benefits are slowly disappearing, leaving them at risk of hunger and homelessness.

Mayor Muriel Bowser has recently made eliminating homelessness a goal for her administration. But, we here at LIFT know very well that homeless individuals are not the only ones that are in need of help. Many of our members that come into our offices to seek assistance are the heads of their household and are often in need of public benefits, such as SNAP, because they are struggling to make ends meet. With debates in Congress over whether or not to cut SNAP benefits even further, their problems look to become even worse.

 In past years, DC has paid Temporary Assistance for Needy Family (TANF) benefits for families after they have reached the federal five-year limit that was set by the Clinton administration; however, in 2011, the city announced that it would no longer do so. These families would see a graduated reduction of benefits spread out over time, from March 2011 through October 2015.

 The results of this is devastating for some families. In an interview with Urban.org, a mother in a family of eight described the effects of this. She stated that late last year, “…their TANF funds disappeared entirely and her SNAP benefits were cut from $1000 a month to $300.” They had reached their sixty-month limit and their only other source of income is the Social Security Disability benefit they receive to care for her son. She also spoke on how the loss of public benefits can cause repercussions in other areas in her family’s life.

“When you’re receiving benefits, you can get the programs you need, like daycare and welfare-to-work. I asked if I could do work training. The said no. They keep you in a bind…”

Read the full article on the effects of cutting public benefits on vulnerable DC families.