Dramatic success in 2 states that innovated on subsidies for poor people

I suppose that I ought to offer a cliché alert with this post, because the lessons from Kansas and Delaware are obvious to anyone other than a progressive. Yet, those lessons are still not put into practice in most places in this country, so please forgive me for praising innovation in applying a rudimentary understanding of human nature to government policies regarding the poor.

The first cliché to be cited is the old one about federalism constituting the laboratory of democracy. Maybe it is trite, but I really wish my state, California, would pay attention to what Delaware and Kansas have accomplished in reducing poverty. Lord knows, California, with the highest poverty rate in America, could use some change. But with a permanent Democrat hold on the state legislature, the dependent class, reliable voters for Democrats, is only going to increase.

Still, both states prove another old chestnut: humans need to work in order to fulfill our basic nature. We are, as the Latin expression puts it: homo faber. Impose idleness on people, through inherited wealth with no strings and no good upbringing,  and you get unhappy people. The same goes for permanent welfare dependency. It eats at the soul. We need to feel we earn our way. It is part of our hard wiring.

So, with that introduction, consider the minor miracle in Delaware, the Moving to Work program (MTW) of housing subsidies.  Kathryn Watson of the Daily Caller News Foundation writes:

More than 850 families have transitioned out of public housing in Delaware since the state began limiting the length of time residents are eligible to receive housing subsidies, and hundreds more have become homeowners.

“Before we started Moving to Work, we had people who were on their third or fourth generation of the same family who were at the same site,” Rebecca Kauffman, social service senior administrator at the Delaware Housing Authority’s Moving to Work program, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

The Delaware group is one of only 39 housing authorities out of more than 3,000 in the country that the federal government allows to have its own work requirements and residency time limits. The Moving to Work program was approved during the Clinton administration in 1996.

“It was tough at the beginning because there was no time limit,” Kauffman said. “People could come into public housing and stay forever.”

Exactly so. Multi-generational dependency; the underclass; in the old Soviet Union, they called it “social parasitism,” an expression far too politically incorrect to be used today.

The key is tying the assistance to getting a job:

The Delaware Moving to Work program requires all adults to work, and to work an increasing number of hours per week during their five year tenure — at least 30 hours a week towards the end of the program. Two of three participating adults work more than 30 hours a week.

Participants also have to meet quarterly with a case manager to plan their path to financial independence, and build savings goals. All school-age children in each home have to meet attendance requirements, and once a child turns 18, he has to either continue his education or meet the work requirements to remain in the subsidized housing.

In general, I am not in favor of government bureaucrats telling people how to live. But if you are unable to support yourself and need to rely on the money paid by others as taxes in order to make it, then obviously you are lacking something in your approach to life. Keeping this sort of program at the state level is a good thing, because failure can be spotted more readily than if a giant federal bureaucracy were attempting the same sort of program.

The results in Delaware have been excellent:

 More than 850 families have completed the program to enter assistance-free living, and 30 percent of program participants became homeowners when they left. Kauffman said she could probably count on one hand the number of people who ended the program facing possible homelessness.

A different form of welfare was tied to work in Kansas: food stamps. Rachel Sheffield of the Daily Signal explains:

According to a report from the Foundation for Government Accountability, before Kansas instituted a work requirement, 93 percent of food stamp recipients were in poverty, with 84 percent in severe poverty. Few of the food stamp recipients claimed any income. Only 21 percent were working at all, and two-fifths of those working were working fewer than 20 hours per week.

Once work requirements were established, thousands of food stamp recipients moved into the workforce, promoting income gains and a decrease in poverty. Forty percent of the individuals who left the food stamp ranks found employment within three months, and about 60 percent found employment within a year. They saw an average income increase of 127 percent. Half of those who left the rolls and are working have earnings above the poverty level. Even many of those who stayed on food stamps saw their income increase significantly. (snip)

Furthermore, with the implementation of the work requirement in Kansas, the caseload dropped by 75 percent. Previously, Kansas was spending $5.5 million per month on food stamp benefits for able-bodied adults; it now spends $1.2 million.

An old folk saying, emblazoned on aprons, tea towels, and other textiles offers the same instruction as Kansas:

I suppose that I ought to offer a cliché alert with this post, because the lessons from Kansas and Delaware are obvious to anyone other than a progressive. Yet, those lessons are still not put into practice in most places in this country, so please forgive me for praising innovation in applying a rudimentary understanding of human nature to government policies regarding the poor.

The first cliché to be cited is the old one about federalism constituting the laboratory of democracy. Maybe it is trite, but I really wish my state, California, would pay attention to what Delaware and Kansas have accomplished in reducing poverty. Lord knows, California, with the highest poverty rate in America, could use some change. But with a permanent Democrat hold on the state legislature, the dependent class, reliable voters for Democrats, is only going to increase.

Still, both states prove another old chestnut: humans need to work in order to fulfill our basic nature. We are, as the Latin expression puts it: homo faber. Impose idleness on people, through inherited wealth with no strings and no good upbringing,  and you get unhappy people. The same goes for permanent welfare dependency. It eats at the soul. We need to feel we earn our way. It is part of our hard wiring.

So, with that introduction, consider the minor miracle in Delaware, the Moving to Work program (MTW) of housing subsidies.  Kathryn Watson of the Daily Caller News Foundation writes:

More than 850 families have transitioned out of public housing in Delaware since the state began limiting the length of time residents are eligible to receive housing subsidies, and hundreds more have become homeowners.

“Before we started Moving to Work, we had people who were on their third or fourth generation of the same family who were at the same site,” Rebecca Kauffman, social service senior administrator at the Delaware Housing Authority’s Moving to Work program, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

The Delaware group is one of only 39 housing authorities out of more than 3,000 in the country that the federal government allows to have its own work requirements and residency time limits. The Moving to Work program was approved during the Clinton administration in 1996.

“It was tough at the beginning because there was no time limit,” Kauffman said. “People could come into public housing and stay forever.”

Exactly so. Multi-generational dependency; the underclass; in the old Soviet Union, they called it “social parasitism,” an expression far too politically incorrect to be used today.

The key is tying the assistance to getting a job:

The Delaware Moving to Work program requires all adults to work, and to work an increasing number of hours per week during their five year tenure — at least 30 hours a week towards the end of the program. Two of three participating adults work more than 30 hours a week.

Participants also have to meet quarterly with a case manager to plan their path to financial independence, and build savings goals. All school-age children in each home have to meet attendance requirements, and once a child turns 18, he has to either continue his education or meet the work requirements to remain in the subsidized housing.

In general, I am not in favor of government bureaucrats telling people how to live. But if you are unable to support yourself and need to rely on the money paid by others as taxes in order to make it, then obviously you are lacking something in your approach to life. Keeping this sort of program at the state level is a good thing, because failure can be spotted more readily than if a giant federal bureaucracy were attempting the same sort of program.

The results in Delaware have been excellent:

 More than 850 families have completed the program to enter assistance-free living, and 30 percent of program participants became homeowners when they left. Kauffman said she could probably count on one hand the number of people who ended the program facing possible homelessness.

A different form of welfare was tied to work in Kansas: food stamps. Rachel Sheffield of the Daily Signal explains:

According to a report from the Foundation for Government Accountability, before Kansas instituted a work requirement, 93 percent of food stamp recipients were in poverty, with 84 percent in severe poverty. Few of the food stamp recipients claimed any income. Only 21 percent were working at all, and two-fifths of those working were working fewer than 20 hours per week.

Once work requirements were established, thousands of food stamp recipients moved into the workforce, promoting income gains and a decrease in poverty. Forty percent of the individuals who left the food stamp ranks found employment within three months, and about 60 percent found employment within a year. They saw an average income increase of 127 percent. Half of those who left the rolls and are working have earnings above the poverty level. Even many of those who stayed on food stamps saw their income increase significantly. (snip)

Furthermore, with the implementation of the work requirement in Kansas, the caseload dropped by 75 percent. Previously, Kansas was spending $5.5 million per month on food stamp benefits for able-bodied adults; it now spends $1.2 million.

An old folk saying, emblazoned on aprons, tea towels, and other textiles offers the same instruction as Kansas: