Colorado’s Human Services Board voted 6-2 to increase the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) monthly grant by 10%, $46/month, on July 6. It had passed a first hearing in June, in the face of substantial opposition by some counties, who are reluctant to spend surplus TANF funds that they have on hand. This increase is the first in almost a decade. Over 50 organizations endorsed the increase.
Thank you, Rev. Bill Kirton, for organizing Together Colorado’s Faith Leader letter which received 144 signatures in support of the increase! Rabbi Bernard Gerson presented the letter on behalf of Together Colorado:
“I was moved by the testimony of the families who were present and who specified how much of a difference that $46 could make for their lives. Once this was repeated, it became a compelling factor that entered into the minds of the committee members, and overshadowed the concerns of those county officials who had attempted to make their case about fiscal responsibility. I was representing 144 faith leaders from across the State, who had signed on to the cause of providing aid to the vulnerable. The letter then spoke for itself once it was placed into the hands of the committee members. And then, when Rodfei Tzedek member Eva Hutt spoke, she was quite intentional about the moral factor of this issue.” – Rabbi Bernard Gerson
Eva Hutt’s Testimony:
“Thank you for allowing me to testify today in favor of the proposed increase in Basic Cash Assistance (BCA) for people enrolled in Colorado Works. I represent Rodfei Tzedek, the social justice team of Congregation Rodef Shalom, a Conservative Jewish Congregation of 300 families in Denver. Several of us are here today, and we have learned a lot from observing this process.
We came to address the moral basis for the proposed increase. You have heard direct testimony from people trying to manage on the current allotment. Nothing I can say will speak more strongly to you about the need for this increase than they did. I challenge anyone in this room to feed, clothe and house yourself and two children on $462/month. Certainly, I could not. You have heard as well, that both county and state surpluses exist to effect a 10% raise.
That a Colorado parent of two children has to manage on less than $500/month, while our counties are sitting on reserves of $50 million, is, quite simply, a moral outrage.
We all know that God commands us in the Bible to leave the corners of our fields unharvested so that the poor may feed themselves. I want to remind the Board that God doesn’t say, ‘Only in a good year,’ or ‘Only if you don’t have any fires or natural disasters this harvest season.’ God says, every harvest, without fail, you must share with the poor.
Not increasing the BCA, in the face of state surplus, amounts to defying God’s commandment. We commend the compassionate action of the Colorado Department of Human Services in offering this proposal, and we urge the members of the State Human Services Board to support the proposed Basic Cash Assistance increase.” – Eva Hutt, Member, Rodfei Tzedek
Congratulations to Congregation Rodef Shalom, Rodfei Tzedek, Together Colorado Faith Leaders, and all who partnered together to support the $46/month cash assistance increase!