This is the statement delivered by the Welfare Rights Committee at the January 15 hearing of the legislative Working Group on Economic Disparities in Minnesota.
To the Working Group on Economic Disparities in Minnesota:
Please include the GAAIN bill in your final recommendations.
The GAAIN (Give Aid to All in Need) bill – Senate File 1426/House File 1533 – is essential to addressing extreme poverty in our communities. There is no question that poverty rates are highest in communities of color across the state of Minnesota, therefore there is a larger section of our people who have nothing. When you have nothing, you are shut out of almost everything. Because of historic economic disparities, our families, neighbors and friends don’t have the wealth to sustain the very poor without endangering themselves. The GAAIN bill will give the most unfortunate some “breathing space” so people can get housing and jobs.
Information about Give Aid to All in Need (GAAIN)
The GAIN bill (Senate File 1426/House File 1533) expands state-funded General Assistance to cover
— families who have hit the 5-year limit on welfare and also,
— adults with no income who are looking for work.
Background: There are thousands of people in desperate need who, under this state’s laws, don’t qualify for any cash assistance at all.
People are homeless, cashless and have to scrounge for handouts. This is a burden on the entire low-income community, and, in the state on Minnesota, is especially a burden on Black and brown communities.
Here are just a few of the situations we are dealing with.
• The 5-year limit on MFIP has hit countless families with children.
• Minnesotans can only get General Assistance ($203 per month*) if they have no kids and can prove a disability – the rest of needy singles, and families who have the 5-year limit, get zilch for cash assistance.
• People’s unemployment has run out, or people get cut off unemployment early because they took a temp job out of a desperate need for cash, or they were working in a job that doesn’t qualify for unemployment insurance.
• Our community members with criminal records still face hurdles to jobs and housing.
• Childless adults can only get SNAP (food stamps) for 3 months in a 3 year period.
• The current situation hurts the community in many ways. For example, those of us who have apartments risk losing housing when we take in our homeless, cashless, friends and family.
* Note: MFIP and GA grants haven’t had a cost of living increase in 29 years. The Welfare Rights Committee will also be pushing for a bill to double the MFIP and GA grants.