Census Day of Action!
The 2020 Census is fast approaching. This once in a decade event is critical for Community Action and those we serve. Historically, people with low incomes have been undercounted in past censuses, which means the folks we serve have the most at stake. Census Counts is a collaborative campaign involving community partners ensuring a fair and accurate 2020 Census. Say #CountMeIn today to show your support for the census!
What can Community Action Agencies do?
- Map the 'Hard to Count' population in your community
- Form a Complete Count Committee
- Recruit to fill Census 2020 positions
- Take a pledge to commit to a fair and accurate 2020 Census
Find out more from the Community Action Partnership National Office
Proposed SNAP Rule
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) currently helps feed 40 million Americans. According to the 5-year American Community Survey data, an estimated 72,503 of households in Utah (7.7% of Utahns) receive SNAP benefits. There is a new proposed rule that would restrict access to SNAP for people struggling to find work, potentially taking assistance away from an estimated 755,000.
SNAP already has requirements for non disabled, childless adults to work or participate in job training for at least 20 hours a week if they receive food assistance for more than three months in a three-year period. States can waive these restriction during times of high unemployment so that more people can receive help when the local economy is struggling. The new policy would make it more difficult for states to qualify for those exemptions. This could mean that no matter what the job market looks like, struggling workers would lose food assistance if they are unable to consistently log 20 hours of work a week. This will disproportionately impact rural communities where jobs are often scarce.
The rule is open for public comment until Tuesday, April 2nd. You can submit a comment through the Food Research & Action Center where you can also find more information about the proposed rule.
- There are 382,490 people struggling with hunger
- 142,320 of those struggling are children
- The average household-level food insecurity between 2015-2017 was 10.7%
- 31,700 households with one of more people with a disability receive SNAP
- 24.5% of households receiving SNAP have people 60 years and over
- 54.3% of households receiving SNAP have children
- In 2017, 6 counties in Utah requested waivers: San Juan, Garfield, Wayne, Piute, Emery and Carbon
On Friday, Utah's 'bridge' program was approved, meaning eligible adults can begin applying for Medicaid on April 1st. Utah residents who earn up to 100% of the federal poverty level (around $12,492 for an individual) who are between the ages of 19 and 64 are eligible. There are far fewer people eligible to enroll than what the full Medicaid expansion approved by voters with Proposition 3 would have covered, and there is still some uncertainty about the long-term status of Medicaid in Utah. In the meantime, between 70,000 and 90,000 Utahns can begin enrollment today. Information on how to apply can be found here
The Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) is a federal, anti-poverty block grant which provides the core funding to more than 1,000 local Community Action Agencies to reduce poverty, promote self-sufficiency, and revitalize low-income communities. CSBG helps deliver programs and services to low-income Americans in 99% of the counties in the United States. Administered by the states, the structure of CSBG empowers states and local communities to take the lead on poverty.
The CSBG Reauthorization Act of 2019 (H.R. 1695) renews the Nation's commitment to reducing poverty through support for an established network of more than 1,000 Community Action Agencies. This bill ensures continued support through CSBG for local agencies and their holistic approach to identifying local causes of poverty and barriers to opportunity, and designing solutions to address these local needs. H.R. 1695 would further enable Community Action's critical work by achieving three goals:
- Preserve and strengthen the time-tested core principles that have made Community Action unique for more than 50 years
- Reinforce and expand existing efforts to continuously improve the performance and management of Community Action at the federal, state, and local levels
- Invigorate the historic commitment of Community Action to innovation and evidence-based practice to ensure measurable results in reducing poverty
Two weeks ago, CAP Utah and other Community Action Agencies around Utah went to Washington D.C. for the annual National Community Action Foundation conference. During the conference, we made visits to our Utah Representatives, explaining the importance of CSBG and the work we do. We urged our legislators to sign on to a 'Dear Colleague Letter' in support of H.R. 1695. Thank you Representative Ben McAdams for signing on and showing a commitment to reducing poverty in Utah!
Program Spotlight: Circles Utah Valley
Circles Utah Valley focuses on helping poverty-stricken families improve their standard of living and become self-reliant. Started in 2011, this program is part of Community Action Services and Food Bank of Provo. Circles isn't about quick fixes - instead, Circles focus on building relationships, confidence, skills, and knowledge required to be self-reliant. Circle Leaders are low-income individuals who are trying to leave poverty. They attend weekly meeting where they learn goal setting, budgeting, and life skills. They receive support from Circle Allies, who are middle-class volunteers from the community who provide support, encouragement and friendship to Circle Leaders.
Check out this inspiring video to learn more about the Utah Valley Circles program.
"It's been a huge booster having friends. We've had some down moments the last few months and having somebody that we can call or text or just to say, 'hey I need somebody' and they're there." - Sheri, Circles Leader
Interested in Circles? Find a location near you.
Happy 50th Anniversary to VITA!
This year, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program turns 50 years old. VITA has become a critical resource for low and moderate-income taxpayers. VITA volunteers help working families with their taxes free of charge while helping connect them to credits they have earned such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). This allows families to keep their full refund instead of having a portion of it syphoned off to pay for a private tax preparer. April 15th is coming up, so visit utahtaxhelp.org and schedule your tax appointment today!
Want to get our monthly newsletters emailed to you? Sign up here!