Updates

Press Release | December 1, 2015

New Bill Prevents Families from Losing TANF Benefits - Office of Councilmember Brianne K. Nadeau

Ward 1 Councilmember Brianne Nadeau introduces bill for families facing hardships to prevent childhood hunger and homelessness

WASHINGTON — At a time the District is committing unprecedented resources to prevent homelessness, Ward 1 D.C. Councilmember Brianne K. Nadeau introduced a bill today that will prevent families facing extreme hardships from losing assistance through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. The bill establishes hardship extensions for circumstances such as domestic abuse, mental or physical impairment and low literacy that make complying with TANF’s transition to employment requirements impractical, if not impossible. It also requires more advance planning and participant education about the transition to employment process. The bill is supported by many organizations working to prevent homelessness, and was co-introduced by Councilmembers Silverman (I-At Large), May (D-Ward 8), Orange (D-At Large), Bonds (D-At Large), and Todd (D-Ward 4).

"At a time when the District is investing unprecedented funding and energy into ending homelessness and providing affordable housing, it makes no sense to remove the safety net that is keeping TANF families in their homes," said Nadeau. "This bill will help children and their caretakers who are in undisputed need. Many of these families want to work but are facing barriers that make complying with TANF requirements impractical, if not completely impossible."

Specifically, the bill will establish hardship extensions for families that have reached the 60 month time limit for TANF but are experiencing extreme barriers to employment, including a high unemployment rate (particularly for residents without a high school diploma), low literacy, mental or physical impairment, risk of homelessness, domestic violence and more. The bill will also continue benefits to children beyond 60 months if adults are terminated for non-compliance or failure to move into employment and the adults do not qualify for an extension.

The bill requires that a transition plan be established no later than 12 months prior to termination of TANF benefits. In the past, some residents have had their benefits terminated because District agencies didn’t work with them soon enough to develop and help execute a transition plan.

The bill requires that families be screened to determine whether they qualify for an exemption or extension at least 3 months prior to termination, and requires that recipients be educated about the time limit policy, exemptions and extensions throughout the process.

This bill is supported by Bread for the City, Children’s Law Center, D.C. Coalition Against Domestic Violence, D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute, Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia, So Others Might Eat and Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless.

A copy of the bill as submitted is available below:

Press Contact: Tom Fazzini, tfazzini@dccouncil.us, office: (202) 724-8180, mobile: (202) 262-8998

About Ward 1 Councilmember Brianne K. Nadeau

In her many years of service to the community, Councilmember Brianne K. Nadeau (D-Ward 1) has brought perspectives from a career that spans the non-profit, public and private sectors. She is committed to strengthening our schools, increasing affordable housing and promoting government transparency and the highest ethical standards. Prior to joining the Council, she was a strategic advisor to faith-based, Democratic and environmental non-profits, and is a former ANC. Follow her on Twitter @brianneknadeau or at Facebook.com/brianneknadeau.

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