This month, Unison submitted a letter opposing the administration’s proposed rule that would eliminate the Broad-Based Categorical Eligibility option in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – one of our nation’s most effective anti-poverty programs that plays an important role in connecting people of all ages, backgrounds, and zip codes to needed food. The rule would limit SNAP eligibility to individuals “who receive substantial, ongoing assistance from TANF,” meaning those that have received benefits, whether cash or non-cash – such as childcare – of at least $50 per month for six months or more. There is an estimated 3.1 million people – or about 1.7 million households – who would lose their SNAP benefits if the rule was implemented, accounting for 9% of total SNAP households.
We are opposed to the proposed rule because it will result in nearly 900 SNAP eligible members at Unison properties losing critical nutrition assistance and access to free school meals. This would be a critical failure in helping Unison as a housing authority to mitigate the destructive impacts of experiencing food insecurity. We know that hunger hinders education and productivity, not only stunting a child’s overall well-being and academic achievement but impeding an adult’s ability to fully contribute to our economy and reach their potential.
The proposed rule would also penalize our members who are trying to save for the future as the State of Colorado would be forced to take food assistance away from those with even modest savings. Saving in case of emergency is vital to families who deal with an unexpected crisis like job loss, medical issues, or car troubles. The little savings they have can prevent them from being pushed deeper into poverty.
At Unison, we understand that poverty is not the result of individual choices; It is the result of systemic injustice embedded into economics, politics and discrimination. The proposed rule is yet another form of injustice that would create a ripple effect of hunger, which seeps into our communities and erodes our state’s economy.
We will continue to monitor the status of this proposed rule and will speak out again as necessary. Learn more about hunger in Colorado and why programs like SNAP matter here.