The Mayor’s Gap Closing Plan for FY 2011, announced less than two weeks ago, slashes funding for a number of critical safety net programs. Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) funding has been cut by $4.6 million by reducing benefits to families who have been on the program for more than 60 months by 20%. A family of three would go from receiving $428 per month to just $343. Interim Disability Assistance (IDA), the District’s support system for those who are disabled and unable to work, is subject to a potential $1.2 million cut. The Grandparent Caregiver program, which provides funds to low-income elderly persons who are caring for their grandchildren, has been slashed by fifty percent. The Access to Justice Grant Program, which supports civil legal services for indigent District residents and the Community Legal Interpreter Bank, has also been slashed by more than fifty percent. These cuts will jeopardize the District’s increasingly fragile social safety net in a time when need has drastically increased.
At the same time the budget proposes to erode the social safety net, it contains no major initiatives to increase the District’s revenues through reasonable tax increases. Legal Aid has endorsed the “Better Choices” initiative, urging the Council to take a balanced approach to the budget shortfall. We realize the unavoidability of budget cuts given the extent of the shortfall, but we also recognize that the District’s low-income community should not bear the burden of this crisis alone.
The Council will vote on the FY 2011 Budget on Tuesday. Each Council member needs to hear from you – right away – about the devastating impact these cuts will have on vulnerable District residents.
Call and/or email Council members today to urge them to take a balanced approach to the budget crisis. Ask them to preserve funding for needed safety net programs and access to justice funding as much as possible, and to enhance revenues through reasonable, progressive tax policy. These efforts can make a significant difference for our client community.