The most beneficial way to help our communities is to invest in them. After the 2008 recession, Washington state chose to address a budget crisis by decreasing funding to vital social services ranging from TANF to education. Now, years later, our state is seeing the consequences of those cuts as the housing and homelessness crises worsen. In the face of another budget crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic, investment will be the key to recovery.
One of my top priorities in the Legislature has been to reform restrictions on programs like TANF and provide those already struggling with resources to move forward. When I was younger and my family relied on TANF, the money helped us get by. That is how TANF is supposed to work — to provide critical support that gives families hope and a pathway out of poverty — and how it can work again.
I have worked on legislation to expand access to TANF, including:
- SB 6478
- Ended 60-month limit for TANF recipients who are without stable housing
- Requires DSHS to report data identifying the race of those whose TANF benefits were reduced or terminated in the last year due to the time limit or sanctions.
- HB 1603
- Cannot be disqualified from benefits for noncompliance with work requirements
- The state may no longer limit benefits for a new state resident to the benefit level the recipient received in his or her former state of residence.
- The DSHS must add to adopted hardship criteria rules to include being homeless as a qualifying hardship for an extension of the 60-month time limit.