The D.C. Council took two important steps this week to give opportunities to families in our city who need them the most. One step was passing an important piece of legislation that keeps a critical housing program working at full capacity and will immediately help 17 families currently living in shelter. The other was approval of a reprogramming that moved critical funds into DC’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, which will help parents enter or reenter the workforce.
Both steps help move the District forward by putting vulnerable families on a path of stability and independence. DC’s Local Rent Supplement Program (LRSP) is one of the city’s best tools to help create affordable housing for very low-income residents, but in recent months its impact was limited due to a mayoral directive that kept families from accessing the program. Thanks to a bill introduced by Council member Michael Brown (I-At Large) and passed by the Council at yesterday’s legislative session, 17 slots in DC’s LRSP program that have been held unused will now go to help families living in emergency shelter secure affordable housing.
In another important move, $10 million of unspent funds from other agencies was reprogrammed to TANF, DC’s welfare-to-work program. These monies, along with an additional $1 million moved to the program earlier this month, will support critical TANF reforms that were not funded when the fiscal year 2013 budget was passed. All TANF parents will receive a one-on-one assessment by April 1st, six months earlier than the Department of Human Services anticipated. These assessments identify each parent’s strengths and barriers to employment, such as low literacy or math skills, and outline a plan to address these barriers. The funds will also expand the capacity of employment service providers from 3,000 to 3,900 slots.
Finally, these funds also delay a 25 percent benefit reduction that many families would have experienced before they have even had a chance to access the District’s new, improved TANF employment services. This reduction, which was scheduled to begin this month, has been delayed until April 1st, giving parents some time to access the services they need to successfully transition to self-sufficiency.
DCFPI thanks Mayor Gray and the Council for supporting critical TANF reforms and encourages them to work together to identify the funding needed to implement the other critical TANF reforms included in the FY 2013 budget. By working together, they can keep families on a path of progress and independence.