Legal Aid's Thanksgiving Message
Safety Net
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Jennifer Mezey, Supervising Attorney

Legal Aid is one of more than a dozen blogs participating in this year's Thanksgiving Blog Blitz. Since we often criticize the way the government serves our client community, it is imperative to remember the things we are thankful for about the way the DC government has systems in place to help the most vulnerable among us.

I, for one, am thankful that the District has a TANF program so that there is a safety net for the District's most vulnerable families with children. When parents lose their jobs and can't qualify for unemployment insurance, when a woman is fleeing her abuser and when a father is waiting for his SSI application to be approved, there is a program that will make sure that their family is not utterly destitute. The program should be improved so that it can better help parents who can work become employable and provide better linkages to supports for parents who cannot work. We have clients at Legal Aid who are pursuing education and training opportunities and need the TANF program to better support them as they work to improve their skills. And we have clients who are struggling with disabilities that have not been acknowledged and accommodated by the TANF program. But the District is working to improve these aspects of the program, and we will hopefully see better outcomes for children and families as these changes are implemented. The bottom line is that TANF is an important part of the safety net for the District's families and it must remain intact for the families who need it.

The DC Council will decide in the coming weeks how to fix a $175 million budget shortfall. Rather than relying solely on more cuts, it is time for a balanced approach that includes progressive revenue streams. Right now DC’s top tax rate (8.5%) starts at $40,000 a year. City leaders should create a new top tax bracket (of 1% more than the current rate) for income over $200,000. The revenue raised can help preserve the programs we are thankful for.

Please look at the Save our Safety Net website for more information . 

Other Blog Blitz Participants:
Beyond Bread

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