July 21, 2020

Keep safety net for families [Daytona Beach News Journal]

This post was last updated on December 8, 2021. As new policies are announced, FPI will update this page.

As Florida’s response to COVID-19 takes front and center, concern grows for low-income families who struggle to take precautions against the spread of the virus. Although Congress has passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to address, at least in part,  the public health crisis and economic fallout from COVID-19, many barriers continue to keep struggling families from accessing the assistance they need during the pandemic. As Florida initiates policies implementing the Act and addressing other barriers to the safety net, FPI will update this form. When available, hyperlinks are provided to agency documents or statements that provide greater detail  about the new policy.

On March 22, 2020, FPI and 44 other organizations sent a letter to Governor DeSantis, leadership in the Legislature and agency heads to urge action on 47 specific policy changes to reduce unnecessary barriers for Florida’s safety net programs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. See the letter here.

The Daytona Beach News-Journal Editorial Board writes:

"These are tough times for everyone. But they’re particularly difficult for low-income families who were already struggling before the coronavirus hit. As jobless rates remain historically high (and Florida’s benighted unemployment-compensation system continues to wobble precariously on the brink of meltdown) applications for help, through food stamps and cash benefits for families with children, are pouring in every month. The state has yet to provide figures for June, but in March, April and May, the state received more than 1.2 million requests from families in need of assistance. Locally, the numbers break down to 28,184 requests for assistance in Volusia County, 5,568 in St. Johns County and 3,983 in Flagler County.

As the coronavirus was first taking hold in the state, the state waived a few requirements that often stand in the way of families seeking help, including a requirement to continually 're-certify' eligibility for benefits and an obligation to spend at least 80 hours a month searching for a job.


Clearly, it’s a bad time to be taking away the small but crucial benefits that keep food on tables and roofs over heads.

That’s why 50-plus organizations across the state, including the Florida Policy Institute [emphasis added], the League of Women Voters, United Way of Florida and others, are asking Gov. Ron DeSantis and DCF to extend the coronavirus rules for food stamps and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, the state’s cash-benefit program, for at least another few months, until Florida’s infection wave crests and begins to subside."


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