Category Archives: Human Services

Squeezing Seniors: Aging Community Fears National Crisis As A Result Of Federal Budget Cuts

Source: National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, November 2013

From the press release:
The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a) today released a report entitled “Squeezing Seniors: Aging Community Fears National Crisis As a Result of Federal Budget Cuts.” The report releases findings from an October 2013 n4a survey that sampled local Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) in nine states on the effects of stagnant and reduced federal funding, including sequestration, on community aging programs and services partially federally funded via the Older Americans Act (OAA), which provides federal funding to states and communities for a range of community-based aging programs and services for older Americans at risk of losing their independence. Nearly 85 percent of respondents stated that they will not be able to provide sufficient aging services if federal cuts including sequestration continue. As a result of years of stagnant funding followed by the sharp cuts under sequestration, virtually all AAA leaders polled were concerned or very concerned about the ability of seniors in their community to be able to remain living independently without costly institutional care….

Veterans and Homelessness

Source: Libby Perl, Congressional Research Service (CRS), CRS Report for Congress, RL34024, November 29, 2013

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have brought renewed attention to the needs of veterans, including the needs of homeless veterans. Researchers have found both male and female veterans to be overrepresented in the homeless population, and as the number of veterans increases due to these conflicts, there is concern that the number of homeless veterans could rise commensurately. The 2007-2009 recession and the subsequent slow economic recovery also raised concerns that homelessness could increase among all groups, including veterans.

Congress has created numerous programs that serve homeless veterans specifically, almost all of which are funded through the Veterans Health Administration of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). These programs provide health care and rehabilitation services for homeless veterans (the Health Care for Homeless Veterans and Domiciliary Care for Homeless Veterans programs), employment assistance (Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program and Compensated Work Therapy program), and transitional housing (Grant and Per Diem program) as well as supportive services (the Supportive Services for Veteran Families program). The VA also works with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to provide permanent supportive housing to homeless veterans through the HUD-VA Supported Housing Program (HUD-VASH). In the HUD-VASH program, HUD funds rental assistance through Section 8 vouchers while the VA provides supportive services. In addition, the VA and HUD have collaborated on a homelessness prevention demonstration program.

Several issues regarding veterans and homelessness have become prominent, in part because of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. One issue is ending homelessness among veterans. In November 2009, the VA announced a plan to end homelessness within five years. Both the VA and HUD have taken steps to increase housing and services for homeless veterans. Funding for VA programs has increased in recent years (see Table 5) and Congress has appropriated funds to increase available units of permanent supportive housing through the HUD-VASH program (see Table 6). Congress has appropriated $425 million to support initial funding of HUD-VASH vouchers in each year from FY2008 through FY2013, enough to fund nearly 58,000 vouchers.

Another issue is the concern that veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan who are at risk of homelessness may not receive the services they need. In addition, concerns have arisen about the needs of female veterans, whose numbers are increasing. Women veterans face challenges that could contribute to their risks of homelessness. They are more likely to have experienced sexual trauma than women in the general population and are more likely than male veterans to be single parents. Historically, few homeless programs for veterans have had the facilities to provide separate accommodations for women and women with children. In recent years, Congress and the VA have made changes to some programs in an attempt to address the needs of female veterans, including funding set asides and efforts to expand services.

A Lifetime of Punishment: The Impact of the Federal Drug Ban on Welfare Benefits

Source: Marc Mauer and Virginia McCalmont, Sentencing Project, November 2013

From the summary:
A new report by The Sentencing Project finds that the nation’s “war on drugs” posture of recent decades may have a devastating impact on the health and safety of women and children of color and their communities.

The report, A Lifetime of Punishment: The Impact of the Federal Drug Ban on Welfare Benefits, concludes that a provision of the 1996 welfare reform legislation passed by Congress subjects an estimated 180,000 women in the 12 most impacted states to a lifetime ban on welfare benefits.

Highlights from the report:
– 12 states impose lifetime ban on welfare and food stamp benefits for all drug offenders; 25 others impose partial ban
– Racial disparities in drug war produce adverse effect on communities of color
– No evidence that the ban prevents drug abuse or welfare fraud

Who Is On Food Stamps, By State

Source: Governing, Governing Data, 2013

Most recent data indicates about 47.5 million Americans are on food stamps, with enrollment varying greatly from state to state.

The number of participants for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, rose sharply during the Great Recession. Enrollment has since stabilized, but the total applying for SNAP benefits has yet to recede in most states.

Nationwide, more than one in seven Americans receive SNAP benefits.

Parts of the South are responsible for the largest share of people who are on food stamps. Mississippi recorded the highest participation rate of any state in fiscal year 2012, with about 22 percent of the population on food stamps. By comparison, only 6 percent of Wyoming residents received SNAP benefits.

Participation rates for those who are on food stamps differ in each state, partly due to differences in eligibility requirements and how states administer SNAP. Of course, states with more low-income households also have more of their population eligible for food stamps, further explaining higher participation rates.

SNAP Participation Map
The following map shows the approximate average monthly share of each state’s total population receiving SNAP benefits in fiscal year 2012. Click a state to view historical annual data. Figures represent Governing calculations using USDA data and Census Bureau population estimates

The Impact of Medicaid on Labor Force Activity and Program Participation: Evidence from the Oregon Health Insurance Experiment

Source: Katherine Baicker, Amy Finkelstein, Jae Song, Sarah Taubman, NBER Working Paper No. 19547, October 2013

From the abstract:
In 2008, a group of uninsured low-income adults in Oregon was selected by lottery for the chance to apply for Medicaid. We use this randomized design and 2009 administrative data to evaluate the effect of Medicaid on labor market outcomes and participation in other social safety net programs. We find no significant effect of Medicaid on employment or earnings: our 95 percent confidence intervals allow us to reject that Medicaid causes a decline in employment of more than 4.4 percentage points, or an increase of more than 1.2 percentage points. We find that Medicaid increases receipt of food stamps, but has little, if any, impact on receipt of other government benefits, including SSDI.

Undoing Success: The Real Cost of Federal Workforce Development Cuts to Jobseekers and Employers

Source: National Skills Coalition, July 2013

This report examines Congress’ un-balanced approach to deficit reduction that has led to massive cuts to federal workforce development funding, and highlights the real consequences of these cuts on jobseekers and employers told through survey results and local impact stories.

Workforce Investment Act (WIA) Reauthorization Proposals in the 113th Congress: Comparison of Major Features of Current Law and S.1356

Source: David H. Bradley, Benjamin Collins, Congressional Research Service (CRS), CRS Report for Congress, R43265, October 29, 2013

The Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (WIA; P.L. 105-220) is the primary federal program that supports workforce development activities, including job search assistance, career development, and job training. WIA established the One-Stop delivery system as a way to co-locate and coordinate the activities of multiple employment programs for adults, youth, and various targeted subpopulations. The delivery of these services occurs primarily through more than 3,000 One-Stop career centers nationwide.

WIA includes four main titles that cover employment and training services, adult education and literacy services, the employment service, and vocational rehabilitation services for individuals with disabilities. The authorizations for appropriations for most programs under WIA expired at the end of FY2003. Since that time, WIA programs have been funded through the annual appropriations process.

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) held a markup of S. 1356 (the Workforce Investment Act of 2013) on July 31, 2013, and ordered the bill reported by a vote of 18 to 3. S. 1356 would reauthorize WIA through 2018.

S. 1356 would maintain the One-Stop delivery system established by WIA but would make changes to the programs, services, and governing structure of WIA, through changes to Workforce Investment Boards (WIBs), state plan requirements, national programs, and alignment and coordination provisions across all titles. Some of the major changes include the adoption of primary indicators of performance across all WIA titles, the requirement of a Unified State Plan that includes all core programs, the authorization of innovation and replication grants, greater emphasis on economic and employment outcomes for adult education programs, and expanded services for youth and students with disabilities.

This report provides a comparison of major themes in current WIA and in S. 1356.