Before President Trump began slashing funding for states and local governments, 7.6 million households were living in poverty in the United States. These were families with a household income of up to $24,400 a year for a family of four, and they were registered with government assistance programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and the Earned Income Tax Credit.
Since May, however, no federal grants were being paid to those families, according to new analysis from The Upshot, the reporting and analysis collaboration of The New York Times. Last year, there were about 8 million people who qualified for these programs, and they received $11.1 billion in government assistance, according to EPI, a left-leaning think tank.
But since May, about 4.8 million families have lost assistance — an even bigger hit than the 4.5 million families who lost aid before that, around the beginning of last year. The changes are driven by the abrupt, dramatic loss of funding for the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
Since this funding was starting to dry up last year, some social programs responded to the squeeze with changes of their own. New Jersey began giving a rebate to low-income people who received food stamps and established more times in the year when families were eligible for food stamps. Pennsylvania raised eligibility for food stamps so that more children and low-income families are able to receive aid. Washington, D.C., also increased the overall number of people it covers, with the goal of targeting this aid to the most vulnerable groups.
The new report from The Upshot illustrates how the new policies have had a profound effect in the most difficult months of the year, when income losses in many households, not just in food stamp households, easily wipe out welfare benefits. According to the report, in the first six months of 2018, as more people lost aid, state and local governments provided $4.6 billion in aid for them, compared with $5.1 billion during the first six months of last year.
You can download the full report here.