February 27, 2009

Beyond Bread: The Stimulus Roundup

~Sherita Evans, our Intake Coordinator in Anacostia, is now a citizen journalist for the BBC! Sherita talks about the divide between Federal Washington and low-income Ward 8, along with the river that keeps them apart. Nice job, Sherita!

~DC has one of the best government health insurance programs in the country. Yet, despite this fact, getting low-income residents the care they need remains a daunting challenge. Bread for the City was featured recently on WAMU talking about medical care in DC. Many thanks to Washington Grantmakers Daily for picking up the story as well.

~Did you hear that a Reinvestment Act was just passed? As it turns out, there were a couple pretty significant things in there to help direct-service non-profits. The most notable departure from the old Administration was the reinvestment in the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), a USDA program that either directly or indirectly gives food donations to almost every pantry or soup kitchen in the nation. TEFAP was cut in half under President Bush, causing our food budget to inflate. That program is now back up to normal levels of funding. Here's what we know so far (thanks to the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty):

Homeless Prevention
• $1.5 billion to the HUD Emergency Shelter Grant Program
• $100 million to the FEMA Emergency Food and Shelter Grant Program
Food Assistance
• Food stamp benefits will increase by approximately 13%. This increase will phase out over time.
• $100 million for formula grants to states for elderly nutrition services, including Meals on Wheels
• $150 million for the Emergency Food Assistance Program to purchase commodities for food banks
• $70 million for the Education for Homeless Children and Youth Program
Disability Payments
• Supplemental Security Income (SSI) beneficiaries and veterans receiving disability benefits or pensions from the VA will receive a one-time payment of $250.
Unemployment Benefits
• Increases unemployment benefits by $25 per week
• Continues the extended unemployment benefits program until December 2009 (the program was due to expire in March 2009). The extended unemployment benefits program provides up to 33 weeks of extended benefits.
Earned Income Credit and Child Tax Credit
• Provides additional tax credit to families with three or more children and decreases the marriage penalty for the tax credit
• Decreases the annual income required to claim the Child Tax Credit from $8,000 to $3,000
Assistance to Persons Fleeing Domestic Violence
• $50 million to the transitional housing program authorized by the Violence Against Women Act to assist individuals and families fleeing from domestic violence

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