Here at Neighborhood Partnerships we’re very focused on the legislative session. (See our previous recap here.) The State Legislature is in full swing in Salem, and unfortunately, with the budget shortfall predicted for the next biennium, many programs are anticipating cuts. This includes a program we are very concerned about, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF. It’s time to tell Legislators how devastating these cuts could be.
In good times and bad, Oregon has worked together to create strong communities, and we’ve pulled together to overcome hardship. Oregonians believe in protecting those most affected by the economic downturn. We need to act to protect families and children, and give children an opportunity to succeed in life.
The economic downturn has already hurt too many families. All families have critical moments of needing assistance, but too many Oregon families are now left without personal safety nets to protect them during these times. The Governor’s budget included a proposal to create a life-time 18 month time limit for families receiving TANF. While many families who access TANF need only an average of two years of assistance, some will need support again in the future or for longer periods. This time limit will make these families even more vulnerable to homelessness and other problems.
Protecting funding for the TANF program will keep Oregon families safe and stable during times of economic crisis and will prepare parents and children for a better future. It will also protect our state from additional costs in homeless services, child welfare and foster care services.
On Tuesday, April 5 at 5:30 p.m. in Salem, the Joint Ways & Means Subcommittee on Human Services will hold a hearing and hear public testimony on the budget which includes TANF. Please consider coming to this hearing. If you work with families that receive TANF or are currently receiving TANF, we would love to have you. It really does make an impression on Legislators to see packed hearing rooms – we need to show them that we care about what happens to all Oregon families!
If you or someone you know has benefited from TANF or any of the other related programs such as post-TANF or pre-SSI, please contact Alison and consider either coming to testify in person or submitting written testimony.
We hope to see you on Tuesday, but this is not the end! There will be more to do! The Ways & Means Co-Chairs have now released their budget, and the next step in this process will likely be for the Ways & Means Committee members to travel around the state conducting public hearings. This is a great way get involved and to tell the Joint Ways & Means Committee how budget cuts will hurt your community. Stay tuned to the Neighborhood Partnerships blog or sign up for e-mail alerts from the Housing Alliance to hear as these are announced.