Barry's bill would cut needy families off welfare after 5 years

D. C. Councilmember Marion Barry is leading the charge to cut families off welfare after a maximum of five years.

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He has introduced a welfare cutoff bill in the council. And many of his Ward 8 constitutents are crying foul, saying such a measure in a recession is unfair.

Wayne Dewdney was one of the people who testified in the city council this week against a bill that would cut them all off for life after 5 years of public assistance.

Dewdney, 34, is raising his 4-year-old son alone with assistance from D.C.'s welfare program called TANF, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.

Under Barry's plan, he would have two years left.

He gets food stamps, and $336 per month. Dewdney says that help, along with money he can beg from his mother and grandmother, allows him to pay the $746 on his one-bedroom apartment. But he's worried about his eligibility running out.

"We don't want to be on welfare," Dewdney said. "We want jobs. Iif you got 'em, we'll go to 'em. If it's not jobs out there, you got no public assistance, then i have nothing, I have no where to turn"

Some complain its unfair for the clock even to be ticking on their eligibility.

"it's a bit bizarre to be talking about cutting people off of assistance in the middle of a recession when there are 40,000 adults in the district who are looking for work but cannot find it," said Ed Lazere of the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute.

Few expect the D.C. Council, in a recession, to start throwing people off welfare. But the city has a $175-million budget shortfall and so it is likely that the welfare payment will become smaller as the city seeks to save money.

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