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Immigration Research Initiative;
Although expanded unemployment insurance played a large role in decreasing the number of people living in poverty during the COVID-19 pandemic, millions—most notably undocumented workers—were excluded from these benefits. The New York State Excluded Workers Fund (EWF) is the most notable example of legislation to address this gap. Passed in April 2021, the EWF approved 130,000 excluded workers to receive financial support that roughly equaled the average total amount unemployed workers eligible for unemployment compensation received, approximately $15,600 per person. To understand the experiences of workers who applied for EWF and of those that did not receive the fund, we conducted 15 interviews with workers in English, Spanish, Bangla, and Korean and 9 interviews with staff from community-based organizations serving various populations in New York and providing crucial application assistance.We found that those who received the fund were able to use it to make ends meet during a period of severe job loss bypaying back rent and other bills;repaying debt incurred during the pandemic;stabilizing or improving their housing conditions;paying for basic needs like food;investing in their children and education;taking care of their health and paying for medical expenses;stabilizing and expanding employment opportunities; andcreating local economic stimulus.We also found that the EWF had a significant impact on excluded worker recognition and their sense of power and dignity that comes from being treated as a valued member of society. We found that workers who applied but did not receive the fund because of difficulties providing the required documentation faced continuing stress around unstable income, debt burden, and other dire circumstances.Overall, New York State Department of Labor quickly and effectively adopted the EWF, but ultimately the fund ran out of money more quickly than anticipated. Although the fund was a high-impact intervention for those who benefitted, it has not provided solutions to the ongoing instability that accompanies a lack of lawful permanent status in the US.
National Immigration Law Center;
The major federal public benefits programs have long excluded some non–U.S. citizens from eligibility for assistance. Programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program), nonemergency Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and its precursor, Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), were largely unavailable to undocumented immigrants and people in the United States on temporary visas.However, the 1996 federal welfare and immigration laws introduced an unprecedented era of restrictionism. Prior to the enactment of these laws, lawful permanent residents of the U.S. generally were eligible for assistance in a manner similar to U.S. citizens. Once the laws were implemented, most lawfully residing immigrants were barred from receiving assistance under the major federal benefits programs for five years or longer.Even where eligibility for immigrants was preserved by the 1996 laws or restored by subsequent legislation, many immigrant families hesitate to enroll in critical health care, job-training, nutrition, and cash assistance programs due to fear and confusion caused by the laws' complexity and other intimidating factors. As a result, the participation of immigrants in public benefits programs decreased sharply after passage of the 1996 laws, causing severe hardship for many low-income immigrant families who lacked the support available to other low-income families.Efforts to address the chilling effects and confusion have continued since that time. The Trump administration's exclusionary policies compounded the problem, making it even more difficult to ensure that eligible immigrants and their family members would secure services.This article focuses on eligibility and other rules governing immigrants' access to federal public benefits programs. Many states have attempted to fill some of the gaps in noncitizen coverage resulting from the 1996 laws, either by electing federal options to cover more eligible noncitizens or by spending state funds to cover at least some of the immigrants who are ineligible for federally funded services.In determining an immigrant's eligibility for benefits, it is necessary to understand the federal rules as well as the rules of the state in which an immigrant resides. Updates on federal and state rules are available on NILC's website.
Total government spending on the welfare state amounted to about $2.5 trillion in 2019. The federal government spent roughly $2.3 trillion in that year, an amount equal to approximately 51 percent of all federal outlays. About $1.7 trillion of federal expenditures went to Social Security and Medicare, and the other roughly $534 billion funded means‐tested welfare benefits. American states spent an additional $244 billion on means‐tested welfare programs in 2019. Based on data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation, we find that immigrants consume 28 percent less welfare and entitlement benefits than native‐born Americans on a per capita basis. By comparison, immigrants consumed 21 percent less welfare and entitlement benefits in 2016 on a per capita basis. From 2016 to 2019, the underconsumption of welfare by immigrants relative to native‐born Americans widened by about 7 percentage points.
California HealthCare Foundation;
California's Medicaid program, Medi-Cal, is undergoing an ambitious transformation known as CalAIM (California Advancing and Innovating Medi-Cal). A key focus of this transformation is removing barriers to care for populations who struggle to access services, including people experiencing homelessness. A critical goal of CalAIM is a more person-centered approach to publicly funded health care.This paper, from the Corporation for Supportive Housing, rests on a foundation of extensive research and examines the successes, challenges, and opportunities in providing person-centered care to people experiencing homelessness. In Part 1, the authors describe in detail how homelessness undermines a person's health. When people live outdoors or without reliable shelter, existing health issues are made worse, and people develop new ones. Californians experiencing homelessness die in large numbers from causes directly related to their lack of housing.The primary driver of homelessness is a lack of affordable housing. Part 2 describes opportunities in CalAIM, in the Providing Access and Transforming Health (PATH) initiative, and in the Home and Community-Based Services Spending Plan to fund housing support services that connect people to housing and help keep people stably housed. This section also includes explanations of CalAIM's Enhanced Care Management benefit and Community Supports, seven of which specifically focus on people experiencing homelessness.Despite the promise of CalAIM and related programs, CalAIM's impact has been limited to date. Part 3 describes the challenges providers and managed care plans face in implementing CalAIM and the provision of housing support services. Health care and social service providers offering services under CalAIM must navigate differing reimbursement rates — which may not be enough — and differing requirements set by each managed care plan, even among plans operating in the same county. Managed care plans may not know how best to identify and reach people experiencing homelessness, and to connect people to housing and housing support services. Meanwhile, people who are unhoused must still find and access the care and services they need by navigating complex systems of care and fragmented provider networks.
Power to Decide;
Extending postpartum Medicaid coverage to one year is an important step in improving maternal health outcomes—a core component of reproductive well-being. As of September 2023, 37 states have already implemented a 12-month extension on postpartum Medicaid coverage, and nine more states have announced plans to implement an extension.
Greater Boston Food Bank (GBFB);
This is GBFB's second annual Massachusetts statewide survey on food access.From December 2021 to February 2022, using an online survey company, GBFB surveyed more than 3,000 Massachusetts adults.The survey oversampled adults with lower incomes to ensure we heard from people most likely to need food assistance. Statistical weighting methods were used to collect estimates representative of the Massachusetts adult population.The survey was adapted from the National Food Access and COVID Research Team (NFACT) survey and modified to focus on issues related to food insecurity and food assistance use. GBFB modified the NFACT survey with input from statewide community partners including GBFB's Health and Research Advisory Council.
Heartland Alliance IMPACT Division;
During the COVID-19 global pandemic, Congress passed major funding packages that included financial assistance payments to supplement the incomes of individuals and families. In response, the Get My Payment Illinois (GMPIL) Coalition formed in April 2020 to help low-income Illinoisans receive stimulus funds. The coalition is comprised of the Economic Awareness Council, New America Chicago, Heartland Alliance, and Heartland Human Care Services. In May 2020, the coalition launched a website, GetMyPaymentIL.org. In March 2021, the American Rescue Plan (ARP) increased and expanded the Child Tax Credit (CTC). The coalition began to also work with government and nonprofit partners to spread the word about the Child Tax Credit (CTC).Heartland Alliance's Social IMPACT Research Center (IMPACT) and New America Chicago engaged in research for GMPIL to (a) share the impact of CTC expansion on low-income Illinois families to bolster the case for a permanently expanded federal CTC and (b) advocate for improvements to the IRS non-filer tool to strengthen access to the CTC and Earned Income Tax Credit in the long-term. IMPACT focused primarily on accomplishing the first research goal. To that end, we analyzed data from the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series, Current Population Survey (IPUMS CPS) and the Household Pulse Survey to estimate Illinois families' take up of CTC payments, including demographics--and how they spent those payments--as well as demographics of eligible families who did not receive CTC payments. We conducted interviews with eight families who claimed CTC payments and were intermittent filers (i.e., did not file taxes every year) to learn about their experiences claiming CTC and the impact of the CTC on their lives.Results from this study showed that only a little over half of eligible Latino/a/x and two thirds of eligible Asian families received CTC payments, compared to about three-quarters of eligible White, Black, and multiracial families. Middle-income families made up the largest portion of CTC recipients compared to higher and lowerincome families. Most families used CTC payments mostly to pay off debt. CTC payments helped low-income families reduce financial insecurities, but families also experienced barriers in accessing payments. Results on spending behaviors showed that the top use for funds was on food, followed by clothing and utilities / telecommunications.
Springboard for the Arts;
In 2021, Springboard for the Arts launched one of the first Guaranteed Income pilots in the country focused on individual artists and creative workers.This innovative pilot and narrative change strategy was designed in partnership with the City of St. Paul's People's Prosperity Pilot guaranteed income program. The City of St. Paul is a leader in the national Mayors for Guaranteed Income network, which works to incorporate learning and research from local pilots into state and federal policy recommendations.Springboard undertook this work to demonstrate that artists should be recipients of economic system change and that they are powerful allies in movements for economic justice.The goals of Springboard's GI original pilot were:1) Provide 25 artists and creative workers located in the Frogtown and Rondo neighborhoods of St. Paul, MN with $500 monthly payments for 18 months.2) Support a cohort of artists to lead narrative change projects to build understanding about the need for economic justice in our community.3) Develop research and inform policy by specifically demonstrating the impact that guaranteed income has on artist communities and the ways in which artists can contribute their skills to movements around economic justice.
Immigration Research Initiative;
Response to the COVID-19 pandemic and recession spurred a wave of policy innovation around the country. Although federal efforts typically carved out undocumented immigrants, many states and localities around the country tried to bring immigrants and others who were excluded back in. New York's Excluded Worker Fund (EWF) was the largest of these efforts. The $2.1 billion program allowed 130,000 immigrants without work authorization, and some others who fell between the gaps of federal aid, to get unemployment compensation if they lost work during the pandemic recession.To better understand the successes and shortcomings of the program, the Urban Institute and Immigration Research Initiative surveyed individuals in the population targeted for aid by this fund.Findings from this survey are intended to help inform advocacy efforts and future legislation, as New York advocates urge inclusion in the 2023 budget and states and localities across the nation consider the implementation of permanent unemployment benefit programs for excluded workers.
Safety net benefits can help to improve the economic well-being of families with lower income levels, but many families and individuals who are eligible for benefits do not receive them. Designing the best interventions to increase participation rates requires knowing more about who receives assistance. We explored program participation rates in Illinois, focusing on seven programs: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), Public and Subsidized Housing, the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF), and the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). The analysis rests on detailed estimates of program eligibility produced by the Urban Institute's ATTIS (Analysis of Transfers, Taxes, and Income Security) microsimulation model. Statewide participation rates in 2018 varied from a low of 13 percent among families eligible for TANF to a high of 57 percent among those eligible for SNAP. Some subgroups of eligible families—for example, families with children with a single parent compared to those with two parents—are generally more likely to participate. Other patterns, including differences by race and ethnicity and by county population-size, vary across the programs.
Many families with low incomes rely on public supports to make ends meet. Some of those public supports adjust for inflation annually, offering families with low incomes some salve against rising prices, while others do not. But even programs that do respond to inflation do so with a lag, which may leave some families struggling to make ends meet during periods of rapidly rising prices. This brief examines the challenges of keeping up with the rising cost of living when relying on public support and then describes how several major public supports address inflation.
Cambridge Community Foundation;
The brief by the Cambridge Community Foundation (CCF) reveals the pressures low-income families are facing in a city whose cost of living is 73 percent higher than the national average. CCF found that:Just over 60 percent of Cambridge's Black and African American families with children make half or less of what the Economic Policy Institute considers a living wage.The median income of single mothers is $29,000—just 15 percent of the $191,000 citywide median for married couples with kids.More than half of the people in eligible families are 21 or younger, with the largest share under age 12. That's nearly 4,000 Cambridge children whose circumstances make it hard for them to live up to their potential and become thriving members of the community.The Rise Up Cambridge program aims to help change these statistics. It is a $22 million City of Cambridge program run in partnership with Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui, the Cambridge Community Foundation, and Cambridge Economic Opportunity Committee that supports families with children making up to 250 percent of the federal poverty line—$66,250 for a family of four. The program is the only one in the country that's not lottery-based, offering all eligible families $500 cash assistance for 18 months. Funds will be distributed beginning July 1.