Poor Arizona families can receive extra help

Posted at 8:32 PM, Feb 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-04 22:32:26-05

Poor families facing a deadline to lose state benefits can receive additional help to find jobs and community-based resources, according to the Department of Economic Security.

As ABC15 reported Wednesday, 1,600 Arizona families who receive cash assistance from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program are expected to lose their benefits in July. The families use the money for necessities like rent and utilities.

A year ago, Arizona legislators chose to cut general TANF eligibility from two years to one year. Community advocates now say it is unlikely lawmakers will reverse their decision. One of those advocates sounded off outside a state House Appropriations Committee meeting Wednesday, saying restoring benefits to those families would cost $4 million.   

“We feel this is unacceptable,” Samuel Richard, executive director of Protecting Arizona’s Family, said. “There is no plan to offload these individuals so they don't fall right off into homelessness.”

DES officials dispute Richard's claim. 

"We really care about the families we serve" DES spokeswoman Tasya Peterson said. "We don't want people to be without services that they need."

Peterson said DES is trying to notify the affected TANF families with letters, and there is additional job training and employment search resources available.  DES officials also say they want to work with community partners to reach as many families are possible and direct them to other services available after TANF benefits cut off.