Unlock TANF Reserves to Serve Families in Need

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Dear Governor Kemp and Director Rawlings,

Thank you for your service and dedication to our state during this very difficult time. We know you are working to lessen the economic harm caused by the pandemic while attempting to reduce the spread of the virus and protect as many Georgians as possible.

As a partner in seeking ways to help families survive economically the undersigned organizations are writing to ask for your support in allocating unobligated Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) reserve funds to provide limited emergency cash assistance to low income families with children in order to pay rent, utilities, and other bills so that they are able to remain adequately housed. 

Georgia has a history of utilizing these funds to provide emergency cash assistance.  During the Great Recession Georgia used emergency TANF reserve funds to establish the Fresh Start Program which provided a one-time crisis payment of up to $3,000 to help families with children meet housing expenses and obtain or retain housing.[1] Moreover, our neighbors in Tennessee are using TANF funds to offer Emergency Cash Assistance that provides two monthly cash payments to families who were employed as of March 11, 2020, and have lost a job or at least half of their earned income due to the COVID-19 emergency.[2]

Federal law empowers Georgia to deploy TANF reserve funds to provide up to four months of non-recurring, short-term (NRST) assistance to very low-income families with children suffering due to a loss of income as a result of the pandemic.[3] The allocation of these funds, currently set aside in an unobligated reserve account, would not require any action or appropriation by the Legislature.

Providing one time short term direct cash assistance to families means they can pay their rent, keep up with needed bills and hopefully weather this crisis, and meet the essential goals of the TANF program. The economic impact to vulnerable families would keep them sheltered, avoid the harm of eviction filings and eviction that are devastating and long lasting, and keep families from ending up homeless or living in emergency shelters, already stretched to meet the demands of the pandemic.  It would have a significant positive benefit for landlords able to meet their financial obligations, pay their mortgages, and bring money back into hard hit communities suffering economically.

To best leverage these dollars, we urge you to adjust the definition of need for NRST support to include families with children earning up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level ($3,620 monthly for a family of three) who otherwise meet the requirements of TANF, including asset limits.

Providing this type of direct assistance to families with children is a strategic and powerful one time boost to help keep families from falling into homelessness or other desperate circumstances. Families will be able to pay their rent, utilizing these funds to keep up with bills and satisfy the needs of landlords, while maintaining stable housing to ensure some level of stability for young children engaging in distance learning and helping to stem the spread of the virus by ensuring families do not end up on the street or in a shelter.

Thank you for your consideration of our request to use Georgia’s unobligated TANF reserves to meet the needs of Georgia’s poorest families with children who have been hardest hit by the pandemic and fulfill the essential purposes of the TANF program.

Respectfully,

9to5

Anderson Smith Consulting

Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta

Atlanta Bicycle Coalition

Atlanta CareerRise

Atlanta Community Food Bank

Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation

Betty and Davis Fitzgerald Foundation

BECAUSE Georgia

Center for Black Women’s Wellness

Center for Civic Innovation

Center for Community Progress

Center for Pan Asian Community Services, Inc.

CHRIS 180, Inc.

Circles of West Georgia

Columbia Presbyterian Church

Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta

Corners Outreach

Deep Center

Emmaus House

Enterprise Community Partners

Faith in Public Life

Feminist Women’s Health Center

Fulton Atlanta Community Action Authority

Gateway Center

GEEARS

Georgia Advancing Communities Together, Inc.

Georgia Black Constructors Association

Georgia Budget & Policy Institute

Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda

Georgia Conservation Voters

Georgia NAACP

Georgia Shift

Georgia STAND UP

Georgia State Representative, House District 89

Georgia Supportive Housing Association, Inc.

Georgians for a Healthy Future

Groundswell

Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition

HouseATL

Interfaith Children’s Movement, Inc.

International Rescue Committee

Latin American Association

Latino Community Fund Inc.

Los Ninos Primero

Nat’l Association Of Minority Contractors

National Domestic Workers Alliance

New American Pathways

Nicholas House

Our House

Partnership for Southern Equity

Path Project

Peoplestown Revitalization Corp

Ser Familia, Inc.

SOSSI- Saving Our Sons & Sisters International

St. Vincent de Paul Georgia

Statewide Independent Living Council–GA

Step Up Savannah, Inc.

The Will To Win, LLC

TransFormation Alliance

U.S. Green Building Council

United Way of Greater Atlanta

Urban League of Greater Atlanta

West Atlanta Watershed Alliance, Inc.

Women of Wonder Outreach Ministry

[1] Georgia Fresh Start Program offers help with housing, power bills. https://gafcp.org/2010/06/24/fresh-start-program-offers-short-term-financial-crisis-assistance/

[2] Information on Tennessee’s Emergency Cash Assistance program: https://www.tn.gov/humanservices/covid-19/emergency-cash-assistance-and-covid-19-faqs.html

[3] U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Administration for Children and Families. (2020). Questions and answers about TANF and the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. https://www.acf.hhs.gov/ofa/resource/tanf-acf-pi-2020-01

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1 thought on “Unlock TANF Reserves to Serve Families in Need”

  1. Dawn M. Davenport-Davis

    Agreed 100% that the tanf funds could be used to help with rent. We are really struggling and my landlord isnt even forgiving late fees. I am a single mother who is out of work due to school and daycare closings. My unemployment is all kinds of ness we do up and ya cant get any customer service at all with them, this payment would mean life or death to us.

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