Gradual weaning of benefits, plus programs, works best

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August 4, 2018 - 4:00 AM

Humanity House

Last week we learned about the “cliff ” and how it can keep people, especially those with children, in poverty. There is a solution to the cliff. It would be a great start to have the minimum wage raised to a livable wage, but barring that there is still a solution.

Let’s take Mary’s case once again, only this time Mary finds employment and begins working. She does not lose her benefits. Instead she is helped with childcare and keeps her SNAP benefits and housing allowance at the same level as when she was unemployed.

To keep these benefits coming in for the next six months, Mary is required to attend workshops that cover money management, adult education and employment workshops. She is given opportunities to seek out alternative sources for childcare in case of emergencies. At the end of those six months, Mary’s benefits are cut by one-sixth. She continues with weekly workshops that now give Mary information on how to enroll in college part-time and what to expect. She is given family counseling to deal with any stress that comes with moving out of poverty and into the “real” world. Each month for the next five months Mary’s benefits are cut by one-sixth until after a year she is completely off of government assistance.

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