Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Immigrants' fear cited in declining food stamp use in SF

The San Francisco Chronicle reports:
Since the election, fewer eligible San Franciscans are taking advantage of food stamp benefits because of fears about immigration crackdowns under the Trump administration, said Trent Rhorer, executive director of San Francisco’s Human Services Agency.

The city is concerned by a recent spike of withdrawals from CalFresh, or food stamps, among eligible households with at least one noncitizen. According to Rhorer, the political climate has sparked a rash of questions from participants, ranging from whether their personal information would be released to the federal government to whether the administration will cut food stamp benefits to immigrants.

The impact to those eligible families, and to the city, could be significant if trends continue.

“They are putting their household in further jeopardy of not being able to pay the rent, or not being able to pay utility bills because they have to buy food,” said Rhorer. “These are benefits they are entitled to receive, and they’re playing by the rules. They shouldn’t be penalized by this negative commentary coming out of the White House.”

California already has one of the lowest food stamp enrollment rates in the country. In San Francisco, about 52,000 people — only half of eligible residents — participate in CalFresh. That’s a similar participation rate to the state as a whole.

Legal residents, including green card holders and those with official asylum or refugee status, are eligible to participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (Snap), as the federally funded program is known nationally. In California, a family of four with a gross household income of less than $4,050 per month qualifies, and the average monthly benefit in San Francisco is $230. A household can qualify even if some members are not legal residents.
Imagine that.