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Elimination of Asset Limits is Goal of Policy Brief

LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas (Feb. 22, 2013) – A case for why Arkansas should enact legislation to eliminate asset limits on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is being presented by Southern Bancorp Community Partners Policy Team to Arkansas legislators today.

Asset limits are the maximum amount of assets an applicant may have available to be eligible for public benefit assistance. SNAP and TANF require applicants to prove very limited resources for eligibility. These limits, enacted to prevent those with considerable savings from receiving funds from anti-poverty programs, discourage savings and deny benefits to Arkansans who are only marginally better off than those who do qualify.

Based on current policy, Arkansans must spend down whatever savings they have to qualify for SNAP or TANF, forcing them to fall back on public benefit programs if faced with an unforeseen financial hardship.  Arkansas counts resources against applicants while encouraging them to save money to buy a house, start a business, or send their child to college through its sponsored Individual Development Account (IDA) program.

“Household savings are vital for a family to become and remain financially independent,” said Tamika Edwards, director of public policy at Southern Bancorp Community Partners. “If a household is punished for saving by losing public benefits, the opportunity for economic mobility will always be unattainable. Household savings and safety net programs should work in tandem to provide families the opportunity to use the resources and tools to best fit their needs.”

Background on asset limits over the past 20 years, highlights of research findings from the asset building field, and recommendations on how and why Arkansas should abolish asset limits on SNAP and TANF can be found in SBCP’s policy brief, “Making the Case for Eliminating Asset Limits: Why Asset Limits Undermine Financial Security for Arkansans.  To read the full paper please visit http://southernpartners.org/assets/PP_VoL36_FINAL_20130221.pdf

For more information call Edwards at 501-850-8973

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