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Arkansas bill would require people receiving housing benefits to work



Little Rock, Arkansas – People receiving housing benefits would be required to work under a measure that will be considered in committee on Wednesday.

Republicans Ben Gilmore and Kendon Underwood are pushing for modifications to the social safety net programs in Arkansas with this measure. Any able-bodied adult who requests housing assistance would have to find employment.

According to Gilmore, this would bring additional labor to a market that is in severe need of them.

“Our employers need people to do jobs,” Gilmore said. “They’re ready to hire them. Our goal is to encourage and incentivize people to get back to work.”

People who are physically incapable of working won’t be affected, according to Gilmore. According to the proposed legislation, a person who meets the work requirement must work an average of 20 or more hours per week, volunteer the same amount of time, participate in a work program for 20 hours or more, or meet the requirements of a workfare program. Candidates would have to fulfill one of these requirements.

“We want to give you a hand up, not a hand out,” Gilmore said. “We want to incentivize that you go and look for work.”

Similar policies have received support in previous years. Some claimed it would reduce fraud and help the economy.

Opponents assert that these actions frequently have unforeseen effects or negative results. Some of these negative effects were highlighted by Ife Floyd, director of TANF Research and Analysis for the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities.

“Taking government benefits away from people who don’t meet work requirements ignores a body of scientific evidence that these policies make it harder for people to find and maintain employment,” Floyd wrote.

Floyd observed in the research report that persons who live in poverty frequently encounter structural obstacles that keep them from looking for or maintaining long-term employment.

“People living in poverty often face one crisis after another, draining the mental resources needed to solve new problems and plan for the long term,” Floyd said.

Although Gilmore acknowledged the difficulty of the situation, he believed that working had merit. He claimed that after the law gets through the proper channels, the passage should be simple.

On Wednesday, the bill will go before the committee.