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Food stamp rule change could affect hundreds of US Virgin Islanders

December 10th, 2019 | Tags: food stamps rule change ineligible Donald J. Trump
The Donald J. Trump administration will soon implement rules meant to tighten work requirements for recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programme, known as SNAP or food stamps, which could potentially render hundreds of US Virgin Islanders ineligible for assistance by mid-2020. Photo: VIC

FREDERIKSTED, St Croix, USVI- The Donald J. Trump administration will soon implement rules meant to tighten work requirements for recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programme, known as SNAP or food stamps, which could potentially render hundreds of US Virgin Islanders ineligible for assistance by mid-2020.

Last week, the administration said it had completed a new rule curbing states’ (and possibly US territories) ability to shield adults without dependents from federal work requirements tied to receiving assistance through the programme formerly administered via food stamps. Officials say the rule, which takes effect April 1, 2020, will save the government billions of dollars and encourage more people to work at a time when jobless rates are near a 50-year low on the US mainland, according to the Wall Street Journal.

WSJ said the rule is the first to take effect among several Trump administration proposals to restrict access to SNAP, which provides aid to 36.4 million people. The US Department of Agriculture, which oversees the programme, separately has proposed tightening eligibility requirements for low-income households and changing how utility costs factor into eligibility.

Changes would be 'detrimental'- Novelle E. Francis 

In a letter addressed to Delegate to Congress Stacey E. Plaskett, Senate President Novelle E. Francis asked that Ms Plaskett seek clarification on the Trump Administration’s rule changes. Mr Francis said the changes would be detrimental to Virgin Islanders, particularly as the territory's job market, he said, has not fully rebounded from the 2008 recession, HOVENSA closure or Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017.

“The territory’s economy and job market has not completely rebounded from the 2017 hurricanes,” Mr Francis wrote. “The favorable employment numbers the territory has enjoyed post-hurricane primarily reflect recovery related jobs and, on St Croix, refinery construction jobs. As the territory transitions out of hurricane related repairs and the refinery moves onto the next phase of operations, unemployment is expected to increase. This rule change would most impact the segment of our population that is affected by the shifting job market.”

Mr Francis has asked Ms Plaskett to share any steps taken by her office regarding the rule change, as well as any ways that the Legislature can support initiatives that protect local SNAP beneficiaries.

Rule change seeks to encourage Americans to work

USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue said the rule change would encourage Americans who can work to reenter the booming jobs market. “This rule lays the groundwork for the expectation that able-bodied Americans reenter the workforce where there are currently more job openings than people to fill them,” said Mr Perdue.

According to WSJ, critics, including Democratic members of Congress, have said the Trump administration’s efforts deepen hardships for poor families and circumvent congressional authority over government assistance programs. “Putting up barriers to food assistance will not incentivize or equip people with what they need to seek and maintain work,” wrote representatives for Oxfam America, a poverty relief group, in a 2018 letter opposing the proposed tighter work requirements.

The new rule requires the unemployment rate to be 6 percent or higher for states to issue such waivers. The rule also curbs the amount of discretionary exemptions from federal work requirements that states can issue, WSJ said. The USDA estimates that the new rule will affect about 1.1 million people and that 223,000 might no longer get benefits after it takes effect.

The USDA projects it will save the government $12.8 billion over 10 years following implementation.

7 Responses to “Food stamp rule change could affect hundreds of US Virgin Islanders”

  • US Tax Payer (10/12/2019, 17:06) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    Will this apply to any persons in the bvi receiving beneficiaries ?
    • @USTaxPayer (10/12/2019, 19:34) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
      ?Please explain /clarify your question.
    • usvi (10/12/2019, 22:46) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
      It will also apply to anyone in the BVI that is collecting food stamps benefits. Yes, if they are, they will have to work for the benefits. If they don't, their case will be closed for failure to comply. The only ones that will escape it is the elderly and disabled.
  • sooo (10/12/2019, 17:42) Like (8) Dislike (0) Reply
    That means the people in the BVI who is collecting food stamps for their children that was born in the US is going to have to work for the food stamps or get cut off.
    • Mbviga (11/12/2019, 08:05) Like (11) Dislike (0) Reply
      Everyone should work for their living not live off the government
    • ? (12/12/2019, 07:05) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
      That means if you are receiving food stamps for children born in the USVI and living in BVI, the mom most likely would have to show proof of working....I believe the minute you show that you work in the BVI, girl your benefits are going to be cancelled immediately as that would show that you are not better find work in the USVI.
  • tola (12/12/2019, 00:03) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    Yes I agree with them

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