Kelly, a mother from Everett, joined Poverty Action to testify in support of raising asset limits for public assistance (E2SHB 1831). Current asset limit restrictions dictate that a family or individual applying for public benefits like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Housing & Essential Needs (HEN), and Aged, Blind & Disabled (ABD) can have no more than $1,000 in savings and a car valued at no more than $5,000. This means that struggling individuals must make a difficult choice- be turned away from much-needed assistance, or spend down their assets, thereby plunging them into a deeper financial hole. E2SHB 1831 would loosen these asset limits, instead allowing households to have $6,000 in savings and a car valued at $10,000.
See below for Kelly’s powerful testimony regarding her encounter with these requirements.
Good afternoon Chair Darneille and members of the committee.
For the record my name is Kelly C., a mother from Everett, testifying in strong support of House Bill 1831.
I am a mother of six children, five of whom live with me, and a recent graduate of Argosy University. In December 2017, we applied for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families after my husband was injured on the job. I was in school and working part-time, and we were two months behind on rent.
We were denied because, in a previous job, I had contributed to a ROTH IRA for two years and it had over $1,000 in it.
A few weeks later, my situation worsened when my husband left our home altogether, and I was faced with the prospect of paying rent and caring for my children on my income alone. Even though I had no cash on hand I had to spend down my ROTH IRA – my one asset to my name – before I was able to qualify for TANF.
TANF provides the kind of critical support families need when unexpected challenges come their way. I was not looking for a handout. I was looking for a hand up during a time in my life when everything went sideways.
I know from my own experience that increasing asset limits would help lessen economic anxiety for families who find themselves in situations like mine.
I urge you to pass House Bill 1831. Thank you.