Foundation research report catalogues welfare benefits
Utah Foundation has released a research report cataloging welfare benefits statewide since the passage of reform legislation in 1996.
The independent public policy research group's study also includes an analysis of the monetary value of the benefits to the recipients.
Entitled "Welfare in Utah: What Programs are Available and How Have Federal Reforms Affected Them?," the report contains the following key highlights:
During 1999, 1.4 percent of Utah households received assistance under temporary assistance to needy families, compared to 2.6 percent nationally.
Utah's TANF percentage ranks 36th in the nation.
The value of food stamps has declined in Utah since 1996.
In 2001, the average monthly benefit was worth, in inflation-adjusted terms, $69.86 compared to $73.50 in 1997.
Utah ranks 25th in the United States for the percent of school-age children receiving reduced price or free lunch.
Utah is also one of the top 10 fastest growing states in connection the reduced price or free school lunch benefit.
Utah's two-tiered Medicaid system has higher monthly income limits for TANF participants than for poor residents who do not receive the benefit.
The situation creates a barrier to the non-TANF poor population seeking assistance with medical expenses, noted the foundation.
Nonprofit, non-religiously affiliated charitable organizations posted an increase in demand for services following the in ception of welfare reform.
In addition, the foundation research study quantified the monetary value of welfare benefits and what hourly wage level would be necessary to replace the public assistance.
For a Utah resident receiving the "average" bundle of welfare benefits, the monthly value registers at approximately $736, pointed out the foundation. For an individual qualifying for assistance from all available federal programs, the monetary value climbs to $1,697 a month.
"Perhaps the most concerning aspect of welfare reform is with block-grant funding, demand for services outstrips supply," explained foundation analyst Janice Houston. "For example, in Utah during fiscal year 1999, only 15 percent of TANF recipients also received federal subsidized housing benefits and the length of time a person waited for a subsidized rental also increased."
For low-income Utahns who fail to qualify for federal assistance, housing subsidies contribute an average of $456 a month to a TANF recipient's budget.
Finally, the foundation researchers compared the purchasing power of the minimum wage and the average hourly pay rate in Utah to the federal poverty level.
In the majority of the years since 1974, the foundation report concluded that the average sole provider for a three-member household in Utah earned less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level, enabling the family to qualify for at least one type of government assistance.