Category Archives: Welfare

Combined Application App for Welfare Benefits

Washington D.C. is launching a combined (app based) application system (District Direct) for welfare benefits that might be of interest for antipoverty folks in other areas as well.

-Thanks to Susan Bennett for the heads up!

New Article: Populations, Pandemics, and Politics

New Article: Martha Albertson Fineman, Populations, Pandemics, and Politics, forthcoming Int’l J. Discrimination L. (2021)

Discussions about social justice and governmental responsibility are often framed in abstract terms, referencing aspirational concepts such as “equality” or “autonomy.” While this is particularly evident in law, grand narratives also shape policies related to public health and welfare, as well as many other areas that overlap with law. Of specific interest in the context of this collection is the idealized rendition of the body that permeates these grand narratives. In law, as well as in political theory, philosophy, economics, and ethics, the body is abstracted to the point that its material realities and their implications for social policy can be conveniently ignored.

The pandemic has disrupted, even discredited, dominant political narratives, which minimized or ridiculed the need for safety nets and other social welfare policies. COVID-19 has forced a consideration of the inescapably and uncomfortably concrete into public consciousness, opening up the possibility for a revisioning of our thinking about both individual and societal requirements and responsibilities. Fortunately, vulnerability theory presents a constructive and needed alternative to the traditional paradigm for thinking about the nature of the state and its social institutions and relationships in this post-pandemic reality.

New Article: The Consumption, Income, and Well-Being of Single Mother Headed Families 25 Years After Welfare Reform

New Article: Jeehoon Han et al., The Consumption, Income, and Well-Being of Single Mother Headed Families 25 Years After Welfare Reform, Nat’l Bureau Econ. Rsch. (2021). Abstract and Description Below:

We investigate how material well-being has changed over time for single mother headed families—the primary group affected by welfare reform and other policy changes of the 1990s. We focus on consumption as well as other indicators including components of consumption, measures of housing quality, and health insurance coverage. The results provide strong evidence that the material circumstances of single mothers improved in the decades following welfare reform. The consumption of the most disadvantaged single mother headed families—those with low consumption or low education—rose noticeably over time and at a faster rate than for those in comparison groups.

News Coverage: Vast Expansion in Aid Kept Food Insecurity From Growing Last Year

News Coverage: Jason DeParle, Vast Expansion in Aid Kept Food Insecurity From Growing Last Year, N.Y. Times, Sep. 8, 2021.

Op-ed: TANF Policies Reflect Racist Legacy of Cash Assistance

Op-ed (not sure how to classify it, between an op-ed and a report): Ife Floyd et al., TANF Policies Reflect Racist Legacy of Cash Assistance, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Aug. 4, 2021.

New Book: “The Tolls of Uncertainty: How Privilege and the Guilt Gap Shape Unemployment in America”

9780691200149New Book: Sarah Damaske, The Tolls of Uncertainty: How Privilege and the Guilt Gap Shape Unemployment in America (2021). Overview below:

Through the intimate stories of those seeking work, The Tolls of Uncertainty offers a startling look at the nation’s unemployment system—who it helps, who it hurts, and what, if anything, we can do to make it fair. Drawing on interviews with one hundred men and women who have lost jobs across Pennsylvania, Sarah Damaske examines the ways unemployment shapes families, finances, health, and the job hunt. Damaske demonstrates that commonly held views of unemployment are either incomplete or just plain wrong. Shaped by a person’s gender and class, unemployment generates new inequalities that cast uncertainties on the search for work and on life chances beyond the world of work, threatening opportunity in America.

Following in depth the lives of four individuals over the course of their unemployment experiences, Damaske offers insights into how the unemployed perceive their relationship to work. She reveals the high levels of blame that women who have lost jobs place on themselves, leading them to put their families’ needs above their own, sacrifice their health, and take on more tasks inside the home. This “guilt gap” illustrates how unemployment all too often exacerbates existing differences between men and women. Class privilege, too, gives some an advantage, while leaving others at the mercy of an underfunded unemployment system. Middle-class men are generally able to create the time and space to search for good work, but many others are bogged down by the challenges of poverty-level unemployment benefits and family pressures and fall further behind.

Timely and engaging, The Tolls of Uncertainty posits that a new path must be taken if the nation’s unemployed are to find real relief.

New Article: “Acute Poverty: The Fatal Flaw in U.S. Anti-Poverty Law”

New Article: David A. Super, Acute Poverty: The Fatal Flaw in U.S. Anti-Poverty Law, 10 U.C. Irvine L. Rev. 1273 (2020). Abstract below:

Debates over inequality have largely ignored the largest body of people living in poverty. Although anti-poverty policymaking focuses overwhelmingly on the chronic poor, a far larger number of people suffer occasional acute bouts of poverty. The causes of the acute poor’s problems, and their needs, differ significantly from those of the chronic poor. Even short spells of poverty can cause serious, physical, psychological, and material harm as well as impairment in their ability to return to their former circumstances.

Demographically, the acute poor resemble the general population far more than the chronic poor, yet they receive little sympathy: politicians may praise them in the abstract, but all too often the acute poor become collateral damage in struggles over the treatment of the chronic poor. The standard model of public welfare law, which is built around avoiding moral hazard, ill-fits the acute poor. A combination of eligibility limits, arduous procedures, deliberate stigmatization, waiting lists, and conduct requirements reduces the chronic poor’s receipt of aid but often affects the acute poor even more powerfully. More recently, some politicians have begun to attack the acute poor directly. The acute poor pay for the safety net in good times but cannot access it in bad.

Replacing the standard model of public welfare law would allow limited public funds to better serve all low-income people, acute and chronic alike. Greater attention to the acute poor would reduce their hardship and could lead to reexamination of some overly simplistic ideas about the chronic poor as well.

New Article: “The New Man in the House Rules: How the Regulation of Housing Vouchers Turns Personal Bonds Into Eviction Liabilities”

New Article: Rahim Kurwa, The New Man in the House Rules: How the Regulation of Housing Vouchers Turns Personal Bonds Into Eviction Liabilities, Housing Policy Debate 30, no. 6 (2020): 926-949 [may need to access it through a library]. Abstract below:

Whereas federal aid to the poor has traditionally focused on support for families, a central contradiction in these policies is the degree to which the state employs antifamily modes of regulation and punishment, a finding consistent across welfare, health, and child services. I extend this analysis to Housing Choice Vouchers, the nation’s largest rental assistance program. Interviews with voucher renters show how, like welfare’s early man in the house rules, the public–private regulation of the program turns personal bonds into eviction liabilities. I trace these vulnerabilities to two rules: one banning unauthorized tenants from residing in the home, and another banning drug- and crime-related activity. After documenting how the enforcement of these rules forces tenants to choose between family and housing, I suggest that these dynamics illustrate similarities between the punitive regulation of housing and other safety net programs.

New Article: A Necessary Job: Protecting Rights of Parents With Disabilities in Child Welfare Systems

Enne Mae Guerrero, A Necessary Job: Protecting the Rights of Parents With Disabilities in Child Welfare Systems, 18 Hastings Race & Poverty L.J. 91 (2021). Introduction except below:

The United States has 4.1 million parents with disabilities, meaning 6.2% of parents within the U.S. have at least one reported disability. This statistic is even greater for certain subgroups—13.9% of parents who identify as American Indian or Alaska Native and 8.8% of parents who identify as African American report having a disability. These statistics are especially important in the dependency and child welfare context, as multiple studies have found that parents with disabilities are significantly overrepresented within the welfare system. Furthermore, parents with disabilities, or even mere speculated disability, are not only entering the system at disproportional rates, but are facing further discrimination throughout the child welfare process based solely, or in part, on their identification as a person with a disability. For example, a study found that parents with disabilities were three times more likely to experience a termination of parental rights (TPR) than parents without a disability…This paper will address the rights that parents with disabilities have in the child welfare context. Additionally, this paper will indicate what is required of all child welfare agency players under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. This paper will conclude with recommendations to ensure all child welfare players are not impermissibly discriminating against parents with disabilities, but are instead ensuring parents with disabilities are given the opportunity to participate in, and benefit from, the agency’s services in support of reunification with their children.

New Op-ed: An advantage of the government’s new payments for families: Not humiliating poor people

New Op-ed: Wendy Bach, An advantage of the government’s new payments for families: Not humiliating poor people, The Conversation, Apr. 20, 2021.