Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Cash Benefits Are Too Low to Help Families Meet Basic Needs

Posted on February 13, 2017

Cash Assistance No Longer Helps Families Meet Basic Needs

Cash benefits from the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program leave poor families well below the poverty line and are not enough to pay for basic living expenses, according to a new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. The report finds that for a family of three with no other income, TANF benefits are below half of the poverty line in every state, and below 20 percent of the poverty line in 16 states. TANF benefits have lost at least 20 percent of their inflation-adjusted value in the past 20 years and no longer meet the rent and utility costs of a modest apartment in any state, according to the report.

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