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Legislation introduced to extend benefits for needy families

Bills being considered in the state House and Senate would extend assistance to Arizona’s needy families.

If passed, Senate Bill 1138 and its companion bill, House Bill 2327, would restore cash benefits for those in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program (TANF) from 12 to 24 months. Last year, the state legislature cut the program down to a lifetime limit of 12 months.

“A 12 month cap on cash assistance is going to (mean) an increase in families experiencing homelessness,” said Joan Serviss, executive director of the Arizona Coalition to End Homelessness.

She said TANF assistance is used to pay for things like utilities, food products and bus tickets. She said the families are using that minimal cash assistance to meet the bare necessities for self-sufficiency.

“12 months of cash assistance is not significant for families, it’s not even a hand up,” Serviss said. “It doesn’t provide enough money to address any kind of crisis that family might be experiencing.”

If the bills are not passed by the Arizona legislature, the TANF cuts to 12 months of lifetime benefits will go into effect July 1.

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