Jun 7, 2007

A big hole in the safety net: Ohio’s TANF funding, Part 7

The final words on this topic belong to the people on the receiving end of cash assistance, because it is their lives that this meager investment affects to such a great extent. In March, we surveyed recipients of OWF and asked them what they’d do if they could get an extra $100 a month in TANF funds. (A bill introduced by State Representative Jimmy Stewart (R-92) last year would have provided this additional assistance; it was dismissed.) We heard back from dozens of recipients; excerpts from some of the most telling responses are below:

“Right now we get $410 a month and the bank takes $5 out to cash it and $400 goes straight to my landlord. So my family is left with $5.”

“$100 a month doesn’t seem like much to very many people. It does to my family and myself...I could have good roofing nails put in my roof to replace the old used ones, so maybe my roof wouldn’t leak as often. I could save and maybe have struts put on my car, then it won’t scare me when the kids ride with me. $100 could do a lot to make our lives a little nicer and even safer.”

“A trip to the zoo wouldn’t be out of the question. It’s not much fun telling your child maybe next month we’ll be able to afford it, knowing that we won’t.”

“We have to plan only the most necessary trips to town or school in our car. We have to wash clothes by hand in the bathtub instead of going to the Laundromat. I’m always scared that I’m not going to be able to keep the electricity on. My son is a freshman in high school and he’s an excellent student with perfect attendance. It breaks my heart when he feels my despair and I wish that life could be a little more fun for him.”

“My husband is disabled and I’m medically not allowed to work. With the amount of money that we get from the state, I can’t pay all of the bills. With rent, water, trash, gas, phone, electric and car insurance, we come about $200 short every month. And that doesn’t include the extra food that we have to buy with cash because the food stamps aren’t enough to feed four people fully.”

“I face utility shutoff every month. I receive $336 a month; my rent is $300 and that is the cheapest I can find. That only leaves me $36 to pay utilities and buy diapers for my two-year-old son.”

“If I had another $100 dollars I could at least fully pay my rent. My rent is $425 a month and OWF sends me $410. My rent does not include utilities and I have two small children, ages 3 and 3 months. My car needs fixed and I can’t afford a babysitter. I struggle every month, thinking that month my kids and I may not have a roof over our heads. The stress of no money makes it hard to see the little things in live anymore.”

“We are raising our three granddaughters on what my husband gets from SSI and the $410 from OWF. $100 may not seem like a lot, but it would help to get the girls clothes and shoes when they need them.”

“I struggle with keeping my baby in diapers and having enough money for bills and rent. My baby goes without diapers sometimes because I have to pay my rent and bills so I’m not homeless with four children.”

“I could buy more healthy food for my children.”

“To some people $100 is nothing. My family struggles every day to pay bills, put food on the table and the extra money would help. I have a child in kindergarten who always needs something for school. Her father works but doesn’t make enough to support a family our size. My kids are always in need of something and I hope you realize how this would help our families and our kids. I feel bad for receiving any kind of help from welfare but we do try to provide—everyone has a hard time once in awhile. Please, don’t let the children go without. Help us get by a little better.”


Anonymous said...

To be stereotyped as a "welfare" recipient is not pleasing to anyone despite those who think that people fraud the system or refuse to work. To be poor is not a decision that we make, to be poor is a life that we struggle to avoid. A lot of so called "middle class" people out there are ONE disaster away from being poor themselves. We should refuse to judge why or how people become poor, but work to help them succeed in becoming self-sufficient. Without the means to meet our most basic needs, all of the other programs in the world mean nothing.

Anonymous said...

Try having fewer kids and getting a job....things are tough all over. I know that sounds mean perhaps, but NOONE but the filty rich are having a good time these days..its hard ALL OVER. Many of us dont "qualify" for ANY help, we are living off the good graces of OTHERS in our families or ever where we can find a roof over our heads. Feel blessed you have SOMETHING and stop begging for MORE. If it wasnt for my family I would be TOTALLY HOMELESS and those writing here, have a roof over their heads are STILL complaining? This is what happens when you EXPECT the GOVERNMENT to support you. Everyone should make a way for themselves, you arent the ONLY ones who have it "hard".