A study by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, TANF Cash Benefits Have Fallen by More Than 20 Percent in Most States and Continue to Erode, shows that Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits have fallen in value in 48 states and the District of Columbia since the program’s inception in 1996, after adjusting for inflation. Twenty-four states have seen the real value of benefits decline by more than 30% and another 12 have seen a decline of 20% to 30%. TANF replaced Aid to Families with Dependent Children in 1996 as the basic income support for families.
TANF benefits are too low for families to afford basic necessities, including housing. Benefits for a family of three are less than 50% of the poverty level in every state. Thirty-three states and the District of Columbia have benefits below 30% of the poverty level. Approximately 83% of TANF recipients also receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), but are still not lifted out of poverty. Even when combined, SNAP and TANF benefits leave families below 80% of the poverty level in every state and below 50% of the poverty level in sixteen states.
For a single-parent family of three, TANF benefits provide less than the Fair Market Rent (FMR) for a two-bedroom apartment in every state. In 29 states and the District of Columbia, TANF benefits provide less than half of the two-bedroom FMR. Increases in rental costs have significantly outpaced TANF benefits. Between 2000 and 2015, the median FMR rose by 40.9%, from $580 to $817, while the median TANF benefit rose by 13.2%, from $379 to $429.
TANF Cash Benefits Have Fallen by More Than 20 Percent in Most States and Continue to Erode is available at http://bit.ly/1MTtwB6.