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July 16, 2020

Will Florida reimpose work requirement for food stamps? [Orlando Sentinel]

This post was last updated on September 10, 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.

Kate Santich writes:

"For the hundreds of thousands of 'able-bodied adults' relying on food stamps during the coronavirus pandemic, it’s unclear whether Florida officials will once again require them to work or search for work despite soaring unemployment levels, advocates said Wednesday.

The waiver of work requirements had been set to expire June 30 — the date still listed on the Florida Department of Children and Families website Wednesday afternoon. The agency, which administers the federally funded government benefit, has issued no news releases on the subject and has not answered inquiries from lawmakers and nonprofit leaders.

...

Cindy Huddleston, a senior policy analyst for the Florida Policy Institute [emphasis added] — an independent research nonprofit — said she was told by a DCF official that the work requirement was being reinstated. But she hopes the state will reconsider.

Not only is the requirement itself unrealistic given the current economy, she said, but, as the state’s unemployment benefits web portal fiasco demonstrated, just filing the documents required can be an insurmountable hurdle.

'It’s very scary,' she said. 'What ends up happening is that a lot of people lose their benefits for reasons that have nothing to do with eligibility. It’s especially a challenge for families who are not able to use a computer to file their applications or who don’t have internet access, which a lot of low-income residents don’t. They rely on their cell phones.'"

Read more on orlandosentinel.com

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