Today's Paper Obits Crime Today's Photos Prep Sports Hogs finding leads difficult to achieve Style NWA EDITORIAL: A rough ride Puzzles
story.lead_photo.caption James Knable helps to unpack copies of the President's FY19 Budget after it arrived at the House Budget Committee office on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, Feb. 12, 2018. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump's budget includes legislative overhauls to programs such as food stamps and housing assistance that include adding or tightening work requirements.

The budget, released Monday, simultaneously calls for deep cuts to those programs, significantly shrinking the overall spending for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and slashing funding for food stamps, officially called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

The budget proposals come as the administration sets its sights on a welfare overhaul. Last month, the administration announced a decision to allow states to impose work requirements for Medicaid. Kentucky is the first state to roll out the requirements, and 10 other states -- including Arkansas -- have asked to do the same.

But advocates say that while encouraging people to work is fundamentally a good thing, imposing strict requirements on already vulnerable populations, particularly when coupled with an aggressive effort to slash funding and shrink public assistance programs, could be disastrous for those in need.

[PRESIDENT TRUMP: Timeline, appointments, executive orders + guide to actions in first year]

"When you get a job, that's not the end of the story, that's often where the story begins," said Heather Hahn, senior fellow in the Center for Labor, Human Services and Population at the Urban Institute. "Often there's a revolving door of low-wage, unstable work, and the public safety net serves as a form of unemployment insurance for people in those situations.

"The reality is, low-wage work is increasingly unstable and unpredictable, and doesn't allow people to support their families without the help of supports like Medicaid and SNAP."

A requirement that able-bodied adults who want to receive benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for more than three months at a time must work in some capacity isn't new. But the recent budget proposal tightens some of those rules by raising the age limit for recipients who are exempt from the work requirement and restricting the ability of states to offer waivers.

The budget also includes cutting funding for the program by roughly $213 billion, or 30 percent, over the next 10 years.

Stacy Dean, vice president for food assistance policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, said the work requirement initiatives are designed to get millions of people who currently rely on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits off the rolls rather than encourage or enable more people to find and keep jobs.

"They're cuts," Dean said. "There would be no circumstance under which a childless adult can't work 20 hours a week. Imagine someone leaving prison with a felony conviction on their record; they might find it more difficult to find steady employment than someone else."

Trump's budget also mentions a plan to require tenants receiving rental assistance to work. The budget line says only that the administration wants to push forward changes "to encourage work and self-sufficiency across its core rental assistance programs" and that the changes "require able-bodied individuals to shoulder more of their housing costs and provide an incentive to increase their earnings, while mitigating rent increases for the elderly and people with disabilities."

But a leaked draft bill, circulated in recent weeks and reviewed by The Associated Press, outlines what those changes could look like. The draft bill proposes rent increases and includes a provision that would allow public housing agencies and private owners to impose work requirements of up to 32 hours per week.

Such requirements could have dire consequences for those already experiencing barriers to finding, and keeping, a job. Single mothers who can't afford child care, people who lack access to transportation, and those who suffer from mental illness or other "invisible disabilities" are likely to suffer the most, said Sarah Mickelson, director of public policy at the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

"It would impose these work requirements without any resources that connect people with well-paying jobs and the skill sets they need," she said. "The real effect is that it would do very little to create the source of job opportunities people need to lift themselves out of poverty. Instead it punishes people by taking away their housing assistance that make it possible for them to work in the first place."

A Section on 02/14/2018

Print Headline: Trump budget mandates work, reduces funds for aid recipients

Sponsor Content