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REED OFFERS “HAND UP ACT” AS A STATE-FOCUSED PATHWAY OUT OF POVERTY

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Washington, DC, March 10, 2014 | comments

Tom Reed will introduce the HAND UP (Helping Americans in Need Develop their Ultimate Potential) Act this week with three goals to help individuals out of poverty: encourage new ways to promote self-sufficiency, increase work and earnings and reduce welfare dependency. The bill would allow states to apply for five-year demonstration projects to test social welfare programs best suited for individual states.

“There are more Americans living in poverty today than ever before – about 46 million – and we have a responsibility to care for them and help them out of poverty,” Reed said. “Our current system forces many individuals into a ‘poverty trap’ which may make maintaining benefits more attractive than working more or even getting a job. It is not fair to simply provide a check with no opportunities for recipients to get ahead. We can do better than that.”

Reed says the HAND UP Act will help to establish a pathway out of poverty for millions of Americans. The bill allows states to apply for and carry out demonstration projects for up to five years and share in 50 percent of the savings if successful. Reed says beneficiaries will be better served by enabling individual states to gear programs in their project towards promoting work and earnings, increasing self-sufficiency and reducing welfare dependence.

“Listening to social welfare recipients it’s clear they don’t want a handout, they want opportunities and support so they can care for themselves and their own families,” Reed continued. “Too often federal bureaucracy holds people back rather than helping them forward. We have an opportunity to change the status quo with this bill by giving states the flexibility and creativity to deliver services more efficiently and test new ways to promote self-sufficiency, increase work and earnings and reduce welfare dependence.”

Through the application process, states are required to demonstrate how they will maintain the delivery of services and promote work through rigorous, independent evaluations. If approved, states would then be held accountable to those standards with backend evaluations. Similar initiatives were used in lead up to bipartisan welfare reforms in 1996. Evidence from those projects helped to shape the creation of TANF, which has helped millions of families move off of welfare.

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