“In a cruel irony, the administration’s reinterpretation of the rules denies emergency assistance to the poor because they are poor.
Cuts over the past two years to general and emergency assistance and inadequate monthly stipends provided by Work First New Jersey, the state’s welfare program, have left New Jersey’s safety net in tatters, advocates say.”
“Flores-Tober said the high rate of denials is leaving the shelters with empty beds, which makes it difficult to serve not only those on emergency assistance (EA)but others who need temporary shelter but do not receive aid.
‘The shelters primarily serve people on public assistance,’ she said. ‘(The shelters) were getting money and whatever extra (came in from donations) would be given to people who do not qualify for EA.
The danger, she said, is that the lack of funding could cause some shelters to close or alter their mission, making it even more difficult for those at the bottom of the income ladder to get help.”
While this group will address public policy issues surrounding federal funding, threats to that funding would hurt New Jersey’s lowest income residents similarly to the lack of increases in state assistance to this population.
Work First manages the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program in New Jersey and has not increased its monthly payments in 29 years. Work First now provides one of the smallest stipends in the nation.
“At the same time, advocates say, the Christie administration is denying more applications for emergency assistance than in the past as part of a concerted effort to reduce aid, cutting off hundreds of potential recipients and starving homeless shelters of funding. The system, shelter providers say, is in crisis.”
Democratic are working to address the issue and have passed two bills: 1. The first piece of legislation would expand monthly stipends for Work First by 30 percent over three years; 2. And the second piece would eliminate caps on family size.
“New Jersey Policy Perspective, a liberal-leaning think tank, estimates that there are 312,000 children living below the poverty line in New Jersey, with 139,000 of them living in families that earn less than $10,000 annually.”