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Updated: Oct 18, 2023

Here's a nice story in USA Today about one of our Family Promise Sacramento families that was given a refurbished car in a surprise presentation last Thursday morning. It's great to work with this organization and witness so many people pitching in to help get families back on their feet. Thank you to Traveler's Insurance for donating the car, to Caliber Collision for all the hours spent refurbishing it, and the Recycled Rides program of the National Auto Body Council that coordinates these donations. And Congratulations to Isaac!

Local TV stations were also there and reported on the occasion:

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[Note: If you're not familiar with the acronyms or federal programs they represent, see the table on page 8 of the Urban Institute report.]

In today's (Friday, September 22, 2023) Sacramento Bee is an interesting editorial, "America's Safety Net Isn't Working", from the editors of Bloomberg Opinion. (If you can't access the Bee, there's a publication free with ads at The Richmond Times-Dispatch.) It basically presents the findings of a study published at the Urban Institute last month: "A Safety Net with 100 Percent Participation: How Much Would Benefits Increase and Poverty Decline?" The study uses a modeling tool to predict what would happen if Congress fully funded US anti-poverty programs (SSI, SNAP, WIC, housing programs, and more) and if all those eligible used their benefits. They conclude that benefits people receive would more than double, that the overall poverty rate would drop by 1/3 (from ~15% to ~10%) and that the child poverty rate would be cut almost in half (from 15% to 8 1/2 %). The study's project page (if you don't care to read the 49 page report) lets you view conclusions by state. The California report shows first of all that about 20% of available SSI and SNAP benefits are not being claimed by eligible recipients. The reductions in overall poverty and child poverty rates is much larger than the national numbers, above.

So why aren't we using all this additional money? It's important to understand what this study is predicting. According to the study, only SSI and SNAP are "entitlements", meaning that eligible people have a right to these benefits and funds are allocated for all who meet the criteria. In other words, no one will be told "Sorry, we can't give you any SNAP food assistance this month because we've run out of money." Urban Institute reports that WIC is like an entitlement because adequate funds have been allocated every year to pay the benefits to everyone who is eligible. Other programs like housing subsidies, child-care subsidies, energy assistance are funded but to a dollar amount that could not provide the benefits to all those eligible. So people can receive these benefits until that year's funds run out. Why aren't these programs fully funded? Political persuasion undoubtedly plays a big role, but the Bloomberg editorial claims over a trillion dollars of US federal spending goes to anti-poverty programs already, so cost is also an important factor.

It's also important to note that lack of funds is not the only reason people don't use benefits, also explained in the report. For instance, someone may have a section 8 voucher for housing assistance, but if the family cannot find affordable housing that meets their need AND whose landlord is willing to accept section 8 vouchers, then the benefit will not be used. A parent working night shifts may not be able to find a child care provider during the night who also accepts CCDF payments. Additionally, people may feel the amount of their benefit is not worth the restrictions that come with it. Or don't want to use benefits because of a perceived negative stigma. Etc. So the study's scenario of fully funded programs and 100% participation by those eligible is not practical, but is rather the best-case possibility. Still, the present data and predicted effects for various scenarios, and by state, are important to consider.

[submitted by Mike Cushing]

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Our volunteers refer callers seeking help to 2-1-1. According to SHRA (Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency):

211 Sacramento is the area’s primary information and referral source for all types of services. 211 provides free, confidential information and referral services 24-hours a day, seven days a week. Referrals can be made to more than 1,600 community services in the Sacramento area. If you need assistance with emergency housing, food services, counseling, employment, or other services please contact 211 using one of the options listed below:

Phone: Dial 2-1-1 or 1-800-500-4931 or 916-498-1000. Call 7-1-1 if you are hearing impaired and ask to be connected to 2-1-1.



2-1-1 is a nationwide reserved number, like 9-1-1. Also like 9-1-1, you are connected to an operator for services provided near you. 2-1-1 provides information available principally in the county you are calling from. So, if you're in Stockton trying to find out about services in Sacramento, calling 2-1-1 will not help. You'll need to use one of the other options. Note in the information above, you can contact Sacramento's 2-1-1 by dialing a 1-800 number or a 1-916 number. With a computer or smart phone, you can search the information yourself on

You can find alternate numbers and websites for 2-1-1 anywhere in the country at .

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