Nadeau Bill Protects TANF Benefits for District Families
Posted on April 04, 2017 at 4:31 PM
Chair of Human Services Committee introduces bill to ensure families are not pushed into homelessness
Washington – As part of her commitment to ensure children in the District aren’t at risk, today Ward 1 D.C. Councilmember Brianne K. Nadeau introduced legislation that extends TANF benefits to ensure families living on the edge aren’t forced into homelessness and no children are at risk because their family loses TANF. The bill is based on the consensus recommendations of the TANF Hardship Extension Policy Working Group, a broad coalition of providers, advocates, customers and lawmakers who met last year to recommend a path forward for the District’s TANF program. It is co-introduced by Councilmembers R. White, T. White, McDuffie, Silverman and Todd, and co-sponsored by Councilmember Allen.
“No child in the District should be at risk because of an arbitrary deadline,” said Councilmember Nadeau. “At a time we’re investing unprecedented funding into ending homelessness and providing affordable housing, we shouldn’t cut families off from the safety net that’s keeping them in their homes. This bill represents my commitment as the Chair of the Human Services Committee to ensure TANF benefits do not lapse for families in need.”
Historically, the District did not limit its locally funded TANF assistance. In 2011, the DC Council enacted a step down of benefits for families who had been on the TANF program for longer than 60 months, but in FY16 and FY17, the Mayor and the Council chose to continue funding for families beyond 60 months and not to implement the full elimination of benefits. Current law mandates that the new 60 month time limit go into effect on October 1, 2017. When originally proposed, the time limit was intended to be followed by the promise of a subsidized job. Removing the safety net at 60 months will force families off a financial cliff.
Councilmember Nadeau was a participating member of the TANF Hardship Extension Policy Working Group convened by the Mayor this past summer. Together, lawmakers, customers, service providers, advocates, and agency representatives collaborated on recommendations for developing a permanent hardship extension policy and related improvements. This bill represents the group’s “Preferred Option” consensus on how to fix TANF so that families are not forced off the financial cliff.