Arizona native Eduardo Porter, writing in The New York Times about the Legislature’s vote to cut poor families’ access to welfare to a lifetime maximum of 12 months, got right to the bottom line:
“This has nothing to do with the (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) program’s objective of helping poor adults with children escape the stigma of welfare and get a job, still the best antipoverty tool there is,” he wrote. “Arizona simply needed the money for something else.”
Governor Doug Ducey called the cuts necessary to protect taxpayers and K-12 classrooms, but the money that pays for this critically necessary program comes from a federal block grant. How then, do the cuts protect taxpayers and K-12 classrooms, particularly given the $3.5 billion education-funding plan agreed to recently?
The purpose of TANF is to help low-income adults enter the workforce. That’s why former President Bill Clinton signed the block grant law in 1997: to fulfill his promise to “end welfare as we know it.”
TANF requires that states like Arizona, which is the first in the nation to cut back assistance to one year, ensure that individuals receiving the benefit are working, looking for a job or trying to go to school. Just to be eligible to receive TANF, a parent or nonparent head of household (foster parent, grandparent, etc.) can’t have assets of more than $2,000.
Cutting TANF eligibility is projected to save $3 million of the $9.1 billion General Fund. For context, the special election on May 17th for Proposition 123 will cost three times that number.
Forty-five days after that election, roughly 1,600 families — including more than 2,700 children — will be dropped from TANF assistance.
There are no provisions, opportunities or options for helping those transitioning off TANF to find living-wage jobs. Even now, 26 percent of those who are employed across Arizona are in low-wage jobs and can barely make ends meet as it is.
In his New York Times article, Porter wrote that in “2012, one out of five households receiving food stamps reported no other source of income. Millions more scrape by on modest assistance and low-paying jobs.”
So, in a head-scratching effort to save money, the Arizona Legislature has put thousands of children and their parents at even greater risk of ending up homeless which, in turns, puts additional stress on the communities in which they live.
Is there a solution? We believe there is: restore TANF benefits for 24 months and bolster the current jobs program housed at DES to improve, enhance and expand its effectiveness in helping solve the challenges that poverty presents.
Or we can kick the can down the road and enjoy an ever-expanding homeless population.
— This letter is signed by the Basic Needs Coalition, which gives voice to working families pursuing the American Dream. Their members include Arizona Child Care Association, Arizona Coalition to End Homelessness, Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence, Arizona Community Action Association, Arizona Family Health Partnership, Arizona Housing Alliance, Association of Arizona Food Banks, Children’s Action Alliance, Mental Health America of Arizona and Protecting Arizona’s Family Coalition.
Samuel Richard is executive director of the Protecting Arizona’s Family Coalition.
What is Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)?
TANF is a Federal program that provides cash assistance to families with children who live below the Federal Poverty Line. While TANF is a Federal program, it was updated in 1996 to allow states to regulate their own rules for the program within certain guidelines. States may define the lifetime limits on benefits a family can receive.
What is the TANF 12 month lifetime minute?
During the 2015 Legislative Session, Arizona lowered their lifetime limit for TANF to ony 12 months. Prior to this past session Arizona's lifetime limit was 24 months. Federal law allows states to set their own lifetime limits as long as they do not exceed the Federal limit of 60 months. 38 states currently use the 60 month lifetime limit, while the other states range from 48 months all the way down to 21 months.
When does the TANF 12 month lifetime limit go into effect?
The TANF 12 month lifetime limit officially goes into effect on July 1st, 2016.
When does the clock start on the 12 month lifetime limit?
Months counted towards the 12 month lifetime limit technically starts on July 1st, 2015. This means that anyone who applies for benefits for the first time after July 1st 2015 will only be eligible for benefits for 12 months in their lifetime.
How far back does Arizona count months towards the lifetime limit?
Any assistance you received in Arizona starting on October 1st, 2002 will count towards your lifetime limit.
If I have previously received TANF benefits, how does the 12 month lifetime limit impact me?
If you have previously received benefits before July 1st, 2015 and have reapplied before that date, you may still be eligible for 24 months of benefits. Depending on the amount of benefits you used before July 1st, 2015 you could still potentially receive up to 24 months of benefits, but only until July 1st, 2016.
If you apply after July 1st, 2015 you may still be able to receive more than 12 months of assistance depending on how many months of benefits you had previously received. Regardless of when you applied, if you have used 12 months or more as on July 1st, 2016 you will no longer be eligible for benefits in Arizona.
After July 1st, 2016 any previous monthly benefits in Arizona will be counted towards your 12 months.
What if I have already used 12 months (or more) of benefits in Arizona?
If you have already used 12 months (or more) of countable benefits in Arizona in your lifetime, you can still apply for benefits now. If eligible, you could still receive benefits up to July 1st, 2016. After July 1st, 2016 you will no longer be eligible for benefits in Arizona due to the 12 month lifetime limit.
My family received benefits when I was a child, does that time count towards my lifetime limit?
No. Any benefits you received before the age of 18, even as a child in foster care/kinship care does not count towards your lifetime limit.
I previously received TANF benefits in another state. Will those months of assistance be counted towards my 12 month limit?
Regardless of when you apply, your benefits used in another state will not be used against you in Arizona. You will still be eligible for 12 months lifetime assistance, as long as your total assistance from outside Arizona, combined with Arizona, does not exceed the 60 month Federal lifetime limit.
In honor of #GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to giving and supporting others, we are paying special attention to Arizona Coalition to End Homelessness’ own Arizona Veteran StandDown Alliance and its year round assistance. #GivingTuesday is a 24-hour online day of giving. No matter how large or small your donation, it helps us continue our mission of to provide leadership in statewide efforts to end homelessness through advocacy, education, and coordination with local communities and special initiatives including Arizona StandDown for homeless vets, Project H3: Home, Health, Hope for long term vulnerable homeless individuals and families, and Project H3: VETS for vulnerable homeless veterans. Help us raise our goal of $10,000 in 24 hours to support and raise awareness for our Arizona families, veterans, and individuals experiencing homelessness throughout the state. Remember, all in-kind donations (up to $400 for married couples and up to $200 for individuals) are tax-deductible. If you’re not yet sold about donating to your favorite nonprofit, once you learn more about our amazing Arizona Veteran StandDown Alliance, you’ll be racing to donate today!
First, let’s start off with Stand Down’s history. According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, San Diego held the very first Stand Down event in 1988.This event was modeled after a concept used during the Vietnam War, giving troops a safe retreat from combat which included secure base camp, access to take care of their personal hygiene, clean uniforms, warm meals, medical and dental care, mail, and a safe place to be with their friends. Since then, Pima County, Pinal County, Cochise County, Coconino County, Yavapai County, Mohave County and Graham County have joined AVSA’s efforts, along with Maricopa County, which holds the largest single Stand Down event in the country, serving close to 1,700 veterans.
AVSA’s StandDown connects at-risk and homeless veterans to long-term service providers including or for example, food stamps, healthcare, employment, legal counsel and housing options. Other services provided can include food, shelter, showers, medical care, dental care, counseling, clothes, boots, veterinary care, and survival gear among a slew of other possible options. A huge accomplishment of AVSA’s is dropping Maricopa County’s chronic veteran homelessness down to a functional zero. Additionally, due to high rates of assault on women, women veterans have a separate entrance and services to help keep them safe and at ease.
What’s it like to volunteer with the nation’s largest StandDown event? A few years ago a volunteer posted on her blog about her experiences at the Maricopa StandDown. “I had never participated in this event before and was blown away at the orientation at the massive amount of support that is available to these individuals,” she remembered. Later in the post, she remembers helping a Marine Corps veteran as well as a clearly emotional moment between herself and the man. “He shook my hand firmly, looked me in the eyes and said ‘Thank you for your help today ma’am I appreciate it more than you will ever know’ It took everything I had to not break down and cry right there. Before he walked away I assured him I was the one thankful for him, and his service, and wished him well before he faded into the crowd.”
As the First Lady Michelle Obama pointed out in an article a few weeks ago, we need to be doing more to support homeless veterans. After they’ve done so much for this country, the last thing they should be doing is fighting for a place to live. “We’ve made historic investments to get housing vouchers into the hands of Veterans and treat them with the dignity they deserve,” HUD Secretary Julián Castro said. Ending veteran homelessness is a country-wide issue that we all need to come together and start addressing. What are you doing to help veteran homelessness? Let us know in the comments!
It’s almost time for the homeless sector of the nonprofit world’s favorite week of the year. No, not Christmas or Thanksgiving, but National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week! That’s right folks, please try your hardest to hold the applause. If you’re sitting at home scratching your head thinking what on earth is National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, don’t worry because you’re looking at the right blog! Sit back, relax, and we’ll start from the beginning.
Every year, National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week (NHHAW for short) is put on the week before Thanksgiving. Since this is a time we are thinking about what we are thankful for, there’s no better time to share these blessings with people who are homeless. Each year, there is a main topic for the week. In the Past, themes focused on included youth and “Bringing America Home”. This year’s focus is on the laws passed by local governments around the nation which prevent people from participating in life sustaining activities (like this or this). Well, who the heck started this? Good question! The National Coalition for the Homeless, which has been around since 1982, “works to prevent and end homelessness while insuring the immediate needs of those experiencing homelessness are met and their civil rights protected.“
I know by now you’re sitting at home, itching to make a difference with the homeless community. I mean, why wouldn’t you? But the problem is, you don’t know how. Don’t worry, because we can help you with that.
If you are interested in donating items such as clothes, food, monetary donation, etc., you can bring these items to the Lodestar Day Resource Center. This organization just asks that you coordinate any donations with staff, so they can be utilized to the fullest effect. You can contact Rebecca Rivas at (623) 256-1796 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Another organization we’d like to highlight is MEB Management Services. In addition to holding a Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week within just their organization earlier this year, they are participating in NHHAW throughout all of their offices, urging their team members to participate in at least two activities that advocate for the homeless. MEB is a real estate service driven to provide affordable homes, apartment units, and commercial management for the public. Their purpose is to enrich the lives of clients, residents, and team members by creating value. From playing homeless advocacy movies to handing out 211 cards (by calling 211 you can learn about different organizations that help the homeless), making and passing out “Bags of Hope” (which come with some food, napkins and a 211 card) to holding a Sock-A-Roma Day (where team members wear fun socks to bring awareness to not only their sock drive but to NHHAW). From November 14-22, MEB invites you to bring your pre-bagged donations of food or socks to their corporate offices so they can donate them to local nonprofits that focus on hunger or homelessness. If you are interested in bringing items to their Tucson office located at 120 E Congress St, contact Sharon Stewart at (520) 620-1640, their Flagstaff office located at 1600 W University Ave Suite 104, contact Sharon Beck or Evette at (928) 214-7267, or their Phoenix office located at 1215 E. Missouri Ave, contact Jayanne Baker at (602) 279-5515.
Crossroads Mission in Yuma is also hosting a slew of events throughout the week. Crossroads Mission is a Christian nonprofit dedicated to helping those who come to a “crossroads” in their lives. They offer individualized programs that help those with chemical dependencies and individuals who are homeless. Starting on Sunday, November 15, Crossroads Mission is holding a kick-off event at Gateway Park located at S Gila St. This event is from 8:30 am-10 am and includes breakfast as well as a church service. On Tuesday November 17, Crossroads Mission is holding a brown bag club food drive all day for you to bring in a paper bag with non-perishable food items. You can drop off those bags to Crossroads Mission located at 944 S Arizona Ave.
But don’t worry - they’re not forgetting the furry friends! They will also be collecting pet food to pass along to homeless friends and their pets. Wednesday will be even more fun filled with the Hunger and Homelessness Conference going on from 8am-12 noon with a deluxe continental breakfast starting at 7:30 am. This conference’s main focus is to teach volunteers and social work agencies’ staff in the Yuma area on the unique challenges in the community. Never fear! Admission to the conference is completely free and is located at the American Legion 2575 S Virginia Dr. Later that night, from 3 pm- 6 pm (with a free dinner from 4 pm- 6 pm) they are holding a Soup-er Celebration of Hope at Crossroad Mission located at 944 S Arizona Ave where you can learn more about different agencies and all they can do for you! Finishing the week strong, there will be a family fun day and kickball event from 9 am - 2 pm at Carver Park which is at 13 Ave and 3 St. The schedule of events include a kickball competition from 9 am- 12 noon, followed by a hot dog lunch and an awards ceremony starting at 12:30.
Don’t forget to come out to an event! If there’s an event you are unable to make it to, don’t worry! There isn’t just one season for giving.. Giving and volunteering is a year round event. Try to make it a habit!
Welcome to the AZCEH Blog, where we’ll post periodic thoughts on issues related to our vision to end homelessness. In this space, we’ll provide insight and commentary on issues, trends, and news stories; highlight the efforts of our members and communities working together to end homelessness and we’ll share stories of individuals and families as they overcome challenges and barriers on the path out of homelessness.
We want this blog to be a true dialogue and encourage your engagement. Please be free with your comments and we welcome guest posts on issues related to this cause.
To kick things off, here's a reflection on the work we've done in 2014 & 2015. This past year, Arizona’s community of service providers has become increasingly focused on our shared efforts to end homelessness in our state. With the statewide adoption of a common assessment tool (SPDAT - Service Prioritization Decision Assistance Tool) and community-wide commitment to make data-driven decisions based on goals outlined in the HEARTH Act, we are honing in, with extreme precision, on the necessary mix of housing, services, and funding needed to end homelessness in our state.
Likewise, the Arizona Coalition to End Homelessness has found a “sweet spot” in providing training and educational opportunities to serve as a benefit to our members and stakeholders. After extensive feedback from our members, we are pleased with the results from our latest visioning process. We have refined the message of who we are – which is the voice for those working to end homelessness throughout Arizona. We work for YOU, the member agencies and providers who toil tirelessly to end homelessness in our state. Join us on our blog where we look forward to sharing more in-depth the work that is being done by member agencies and our community. We look forward to accomplishing many goals and sharing them here as a way to increase communication.
We, the board and staff of the Coalition, are excited about the direction of our organization moving forward. In short, our goals include:
Highlights of the Arizona Coalition to End Homelessness this past year
The Arizona Coalition to End Homelessness and the Arizona Housing Alliance, have been leading the charge to restore the state housing trust fund, the only state resource devoted to addressing Arizona’s housing needs. The fund, created in 1988, is supported by the sale of unclaimed property, but it was swept by the Arizona Legislature during the economic downturn. Prior to budget cuts, the housing trust fund leveraged over $350 million in federal dollars annually, helped 10,000 Arizonans avoid homelessness, repaired dilapidated homes, created new jobs and revenue, and assisted first-time homebuyers with the purchase of their home.
We believe this is the year we’ll see an increase in the state housing trust fund. But we need your help. Visit us at www.azceh.org to learn how you can join this effort, lend your voice when a bill is introduced at the state Legislature, and educate your elected officials on the importance of restoring this fund to address housing and homelessness.
The Arizona Coalition to End Homelessness is led by its volunteer Board of Directors. This group of experts within their respective field bring a wide range of talent from the private, public, and non-profit sectors across the state. Many of our strongest leaders in ending homelessness are serving or have served on this distinguished Board or have been involved in one of our many planning committees. Please consider getting involved and strengthening our statewide impact in ending homelessness. Support our conference and education committee as we host statewide trainings that meet the needs of stakeholder’s work in ending homelessness. Help shape our policy agenda by participating in our legislative committee. Guide our membership committee in enriching our benefits and statewide reach. It’s imperative that we come together as a united, statewide voice, advocating and demonstrating the importance of funding, while also illustrating the collaboration necessary to end homelessness for our friends without homes in our great state.
Again, we look forward to using this blog space to give a more in-depth look at the work that is being done by AZCEH member agencies and our community in ending homelessness in Arizona and beyond.
Find out more about how to Take Action and get involved.
You don’t need an expert to tell you that people working in homeless services are spread thin. You are tasked with some of the most challenging–and rewarding–work in the nation. You must juggle competing demands, face risk of burnout, and often have little access to training.
That’s why we created t3: Think, Teach, Transform, a new training institute committed to supporting people working in homeless services. Our trainers come from the field and include former case managers, educators, clinicians, doctors and nurses, and consumers. We’ve trained thousands of homeless service providers across the nation for all the major homelessness training and technical assistance centers.
We have learned that while many good training efforts exist, training is often haphazard or fragmented. Quality varies, and access to training is often limited by time constraints and travel budgets.
To overcome these obstacles, we’ve brought together the very best of what we’ve learned and created t3 – a flexible model of online, onsite and blended learning that enables people to access a variety of learning opportunities on their own time, at their own pace, tailored to the needs of their agency and community.
t3 training is practical, skills-based, interactive, based in established core competencies and grounded in adult learning theory. We offer online, onsite, and blended training on evidence-based and promising practices like trauma-informed care, Motivational Interviewing, Critical Time Intervention, and more, in addition to basic knowledge about homelessness and subgroups within the homeless population.
Throughout the learning process, we support individual providers and their agencies to think differently about the work they do, teach each other how they have overcome challenges, and transform their communities.
t3 has partnered with the Arizona Coalition to End Homelessness to offer special member discounts. We invite you to join us on October 13, 2011 at 12 pm Pacific for a special webcast or drop by our resource table at the 18th Annual AZCEH Statewide Conference on Homelessness on October 17-18, 2011.
To learn more, watch a video about t3’s approach to training or visit the t3 website. You can join our mailing list to receive periodic updates about training opportunities.
I can remember the first time I was introduced to People First Language, defined on Wikipedia as a “form of linguistic prescriptivism in English, aiming to avoid perceived and subconscious dehumanization when discussing people with disabilities.“ I was at a mental health conference when a panelist described the an Arizona state legislature, where I live, as schizophrenic.
A gentleman that I did not know at the time stepped up to the microphone in the audience and stated rather firmly that the characterization was offensive.
No, it wasn’t one of our esteemed state legislators! This man, who is now a friend of mine, stated that he had schizophrenia himself.
He went on to explain how using a condition or disability as the primary way of identifying a person or group of people is extremely harmful. He did not want to be labeled a schizophrenic, as if his condition summed up all that he was. He is a man that lives with schizophrenia, but his disability does not define him.
It was an important moment for me, and I try diligently to focus on people – not conditions – in my speech, both professionally and personally.
Words matter. The way that we construct language has an effect on how we see and understand the world. Focusing on one’s condition or circumstances increases the likelihood that the listener identifies the person or people as “less than,” as “other,” and reduces the opportunity to identify with them as fellow human beings.
We share so much more in common as members of a community with equal rights and responsibilities than we have differences.
This phenomenon of labeling people and groups of people extends beyond the issue of disability. Last week I attended and presented at the annual conference of the Arizona chapter of the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO). NAHRO is the membership and advocacy organization for public housing authority and community development professionals.
I’m proud to say that this year marked my 15th year as a NAHRO member. I’m even more proud to learn from Community Solutions that NAHRO is now a partner in the 100,000 Homes Campaign – an absolutely monumental partnership in the world of homelessness. NAHRO should be commended for their support of the campaign and I am truly excited to see how they demonstrate their support in their message and guidance to their members.
Public housing authorities (PHAs) control the HUD Housing Choice Voucher program – formerly known as Section 8 – in their communities, which is an absolutely critical mainstream tool in ending homelessness. The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) recently outlined actions that PHAs can take to become more involved in preventing and ending homelessness in their communities.
While presenting to my colleagues at the AZNAHRO conference, I began to understand how labeling people based on their circumstances – in this case, as “homeless people” – continues to keep us from focusing on those with the worst case housing needs.
In our discussion, I heard in my own voice and in others how the labeling and categorization of people impacted the conversation. By focusing on the condition of homelessness for individuals and families, mainstream housing programs were not as easily thought of as solutions.
There are targeted “homeless programs” for “that population.” Some believe that PHAs need to focus on low-income and “working families” in their programs and that the non-profit and even faith-based sectors are better suited to assist “them.” I don’t see it that way.
When we attach labels to people, like “homeless,” we miss the fact that these individuals and families are people that are suffering. They are members of our community that are perhaps the most vulnerable among us. They are someone’s son or daughter; perhaps a parent, or grandparent. They may be someone’s brother or sister, and may have served our country bravely in the military. They’re certainly low-income!
As we come together as communities to explore and develop new tools in the effort to end homelessness, I think it is important to choose our words carefully; especially as we bring new partners to the table.
Some may call it political correctness run amok, but I’ve seen how people respond to this crisis when we frame this issue appropriately – when we look at homelessness as a temporary condition of an individual or family. People experiencing homelessness have names, faces, stories and are members of our community. When we discuss solutions to homelessness, we’ll do well to remember that it’s “us” – not “them.”
Photo credit: Henti Smith
Arizona Housing Coalition is a 501(c)(3) non-profitFederal Tax ID#: 86-0909029
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