Groups Rally to Protect TANF and Other Safety Net Programs from Cuts

This Monday, a coalition launched an online petition to “Save DC’s Safety Net.”

By Tuesday, nearly 1,500 DC residents had signed on.

These are residents who believe that the District must support our most vulnerable neighbors in this economic crisis.

The petition is one of several actions being taken this week to influence the Council as it addresses a $340 million budget shortfall. A group of local and national groups is raising serious concerns over a plan to cut poor families with children off TANF cash assistance. And a rally is being planned for Thursday at noon at the Wilson Building.

Why? A budget proposal from the Mayor would make $100 million in budget cuts – with half of the cuts falling on services for low-income residents. The cuts include affordable housing, legal services, disability services, and assistance to needy families. The DC Council – which has been meeting behind closed doors – may cut even more from the safety net than the Mayor, as well as cutting schools and public safety.

Here’s what’s going on:

1) This online petition notes that proposed budget cuts are targeting poor residents – balancing the budget on the backs of the poor. It asks the Council to raise new revenues as a way to limit the need for budget cuts.

2) Opposing TANF cuts. 50 local and national groups have signed a letter to oppose cuts to DC’s TANF program – the single largest cut in the Mayor’s budget. TANF provides income support to children in poverty – covering one of three DC children. The Mayor’s plan would cut benefits entirely for some families if they do not meet work requirements. In other jurisdictions, the so-called “full family sanctions” have not worked to get more families to go to work but instead have created more hardship for very disadvantaged families. Many renowned national groups, such as the Center on Law and Social Policy, have signed on because they know the harm that these sanctions have done in other communities.

3) Rally at the Wilson Building, 12:00 on Thursday July 30. The Coalition for Community Investment, a 160-member group that organized the online petition is holding a rally for all concerned DC residents. The message of the rally is to protect the safety net from disproportionate cuts and for the city to raise revenues, as 25 states have done, to address the budget shortfall.

Your voice can be heard, too. Join the rally. Sign the petition. Call your Councilmember