CHICAGO (AP) – From Hawaii to Pennsylvania, states are scrambling to curb the impact of a new Trump administration rule that could cause nearly 700,000 people to lose food stamp benefits.
States have filed a multi-state lawsuit, expanded publicly-funded job training, created pilot programs and doubled down on efforts to reach vulnerable communities, including the homeless, rural residents and people of color.
The plan limits states from exempting work-eligible adults from having to maintain steady employment in order to receive benefits.
The Agriculture Department estimates the change would save roughly $5.5 billion over five years and cut benefits for roughly 688,000 SNAP recipients.
Under current rules, work-eligible able-bodied adults without dependents and between the ages of 18 and 49 can currently receive only three months of SNAP benefits in a three-year period if they don’t meet the 20-hour work requirement. But states with high unemployment rates or a demonstrable lack of sufficient jobs can waive those time limits.
The new rule imposes stricter criteria states must meet in order to issue waivers. Under the plan, states can only issue waivers if a city or county has an unemployment rate of 6% or higher. The waivers will be good for one year and will require the governor to support the request.
The unemployment rate in Ohio is 4.2 percent, and 5.4 percent in the Youngstown-Warren-Boardman area, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The new guidelines go into effect in April.
Social service agencies say they won’t be able to keep up with the growing need, making increased homelessness and more hospital visits the biggest concerns.
Experts say they’ve already seen troubling signs in states that have voluntarily made similar changes.
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