And he's frustrated.
"They're cutting Medicaid and food stamps when there aren't any jobs out there, which is why the poor are getting poorer and the rich are getting richer," Anderson said. "Most people on food stamps are elderly and kids."
To achieve economic self-sufficiency in Madison County, a wage of $16-per-hour is needed (that's $33,280 annually, assuming a 40-hour work week).
At a wage of $8 per hour, a single mother with one preschool and one school age child with support of federal and state tax credits, SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), public health insurance, and a child care subsidy is self-sufficiency. As wages increase, benefits start falling off, a phenomenon known as the "cliff effect," Anderson said.
The needs don't go away, however. At $12 per hour, SNAP goes away, a total net annual resource loss of $2,651, according to the report. Between $15 and $15.50 per hour, child care subsidies cease, for a net annual resource lost of $8,454. Between $22 and and $22.50, Hoosier Healthwise benefits cease, for an annual net resource loss of $574.
"The unintended consequence of this design either leads to a disincentive towards economic mobility, or leads to a situation in which the parent or guardian is working harder, but is financially worse off — effectively trapping families into poverty," the report states.
Like Anderson, Dough Linville sees the struggles every day. He's executive director of Dove House, a transitional housing program for needy families.
Often, parents are working two part-time jobs, neither of which pays a living wage. Still, they have to pay rent and buy food, gas, insurance and daycare.
"You start adding that up and pretty quickly you hit a financial wall," he said, adding that one of the programs at Dove House is to help women learn how to manage what money they do have.
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