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Did You Know?
The maximum TANF benefit for a D.C. family of three is 28% of the federal poverty line.
The average wage for D.C. TANF recipients who find a job is only $9.00 per hour.
More than 16% of DC residents live at or below the official poverty level. For a family of three, this means an income of no more than $18,310 a year.
A big part of the solution is better, more relevant public education. Nevertheless, there is—and will always be—a need to ensure that everyone has sufficient income to meet their daily needs and those of their family.
The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program is intended to do this and, at the same time, provide a path to long-term self-sufficiency. Adult recipients who are not working must be preparing for or looking for a job. TANF is supposed to provide them with enough financial support to focus on these activities and also the training and other services they need to get a job that will end their dependence on public benefits.
The District's TANF program falls far short of these goals. The current maximum benefit for a family of three is about $428 per month. Even with a range of other public benefits, including housing assistance, the family is short $180 per month of what it needs for basic living expenses. For the two-thirds of TANF families without housing assistance, the monthly shortfall is $1,314
The program also fails to consistently provide appropriate training or help in overcoming other barriers to employment. As a result, some participants have difficulty finding or keeping any job. Others who begin with more skills and experience do not receive training for jobs that would pay enough to support them and their families.
SOME and the DC Fiscal Police Institute released a full report on the TANF program and video of TANF recipients talking about their experiences. Download the full report here (pdf, 1.25 MB).
What We Advocate
To help TANF families, we recommend the District: