A&O Network Submits Letter to Congress Opposing Asset Tests in SNAP

Last week, the House Agricultural Committee released a farm bill proposal that would cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly Food Stamps) by more than $16 billion over a decade. Approximately 70% of the savings would come from eliminating Broad Based Categorical Eligibility, which allows states to set their own or waive the assets test. To date, 37 states have eliminated their SNAP asset tests; the proposed farm bill would force all of these states to reinstate the asset tests.

Asset tests are detrimental to long-term financial stability for low-income families. If a family has assets over the state's limit ($2,000 in most cases), it must "spend down" longer-term savings in order to receive what is often short-term public assistance. Personal savings and assets are precisely the kind of resources that allow families to move off of public benefit programs.

Yesterday, the Assets & Opportunity Network — a national coalition of state and local service providers, advocates, financial institutions, researchers and policymakers working to break the cycle of poverty and create economic opportunity through asset-based strategies — submitted a letter urging the House Agricultural Committee to oppose the proposed Farm Bill. Eighty-one organizations in the A&O Network signed the letter, demonstrating the assets field's overwhelming opposition to the proposal. Click here to read the letter.

Representative Jim McGovern (D-MA) offered an amendment to maintain Categorical Eligibility and keep SNAP funded at current levels. The Agriculture Committee voted against it with a 15-31 margin. Representative Larry Kissel (D-NC) offered an amendment that would have matched the smaller cuts in the Senate version of the legislation (which maintains Categorical Eligibility), but it was also defeated. After considering more than 90 amendments, the Committee approved the Farm Bill in a 35-11 vote. It will now be considered by the full House of Representatives, likely before Congress adjourns in August.

The following 81 organizations are listed below.

AAA Fair Credit Foundation (UT)
Action for Children North Carolina (NC)
Alabama Asset Building Coalition (AL)
Alachua County Nutrition Alliance (FL)
Alachua County Coalition for the Homeless and Hungry (FL)
Alameda County Community Asset Network (CA)
Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance (AR)
Atlanta Community Food Bank (GA)
Atlanta Prosperity Campaign (GA)
Baltimore CASH (MD)
California Asset Building Coalition (CA)
Catalyst Miami (FL)
Center for Asset Building Opportunities (CA)
Center for Public Policy Priorities (TX)
Clara White Mission (FL)
Coalition for a Prosperous Mississippi (MS)
Community Action Kentucky (KY)
Community Economic Development Association of Michigan (MI)
Community Empowerment Fund (NC)
Community Financial Resources (CA)
Connecticut Voices for Children (CT)
Corporation for Enterprise Development (DC)
Crittenton Women's Union (MA)
Delaware Housing Coalition (DE)
DelcoAD (PA)
East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation (CA)
Florida Prosperity Partnership (FL)
Georgia Food Bank Association (GA)
Guilford County Homeownership Center (NC)
Hawaii Alliance for Community Based Economic Development (HI)
Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights (IL)
HOPE Projects Community Action Council (NC)
HOPE Enterprise Corporation (MS)
Illinois Asset Building Group (IL)
Indiana Institute for Working Families (IN)
ISED Ventures (IA)
Just Harvest: A Center for Action Against Hunger (PA)
Kalamazoo County Poverty Reduction Initiative (MI)
Kanawha Institute for Social Research & Action, Inc. (WV)
KC Cash Coalition, Inc. (MO)
Kentucky Equal Justice Center (KY)
Kentucky Youth Advocates (KY)
Legal Services Advocacy Project (MN)
Maryland CASH (MD)
Maryland Cash Match Savings Program (MD)
Metropolitan Housing & CDC, Inc. (NC)
Michigan Primary Care Association (MI)
Midas Collaborative (MA)
Mission Asset Fund (CA)
Montgomery County Community Action Board (MD)
New York State Community Action Association, Inc. (NY)
Neighborhood Partnerships (OR)
Neighborhood Improvement Association, Inc. (GA)
North Carolina Housing Coalition (NC)
North Carolina Assets Alliance (NC) North Dakota Economic Security & Prosperity Alliance (ND)
Oklahoma Policy Institute (OK)
Opportunity Fund (CA)
Policy Matters Ohio (OH)
Partners for Prosperity: New Beginnings for Eastern Idaho (ID)
RAISE Kentucky (KY)
RAISE Texas (TX)
Reinvestment Partners (NC)
Rural Dynamics, Inc. (MT)
Sacramento|Yolo Mutual Housing Association (CA)
Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law (IL)
Savannah Coastal Empire Asset Development Coalition (GA)
Seattle-King County Asset Building Collaborative (WA)
South Carolina Association of Community Action Partnerships (SC)
Southern Bancorp Community Partners (AR)
Step Up Savannah, Inc. (GA)
The Collaborative (NC)
United Way of Coastal Bend (TX)
United Way of Greater Kansas City (MO)
United Way of Marion County (FL)
United Way of North Central Florida (FL)
United Way of Northeast Florida (FL)
United Way Suncoast (FL)
Voices for Children for Nebraska (NE)
Woodstock Institute (IL)
YWCA Delaware (DE)

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