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The US Conference of Mayors report that the main causes of homelessness in the United States are a lack of affordable housing, domestic violence, mental illness, and the economy. Here in Milwaukee County, we would add W-2 as a leading culprit. For years, we have done our best to advocate for the moms when services were denied to them by these privatized welfare agencies.
One of the newest W-2 intake and assessment specialists, SDC, have now made it even more difficult for mothers staying with us to get themselves out of homelessness. The Social Development Commission, or SDC, is now the only agency in Milwaukee County that can give out homeless Emergency Assistance referrals which help provide first month's rent and security deposit. Since this change took place, the vast majority of moms staying with us who have sought this rental assistance from their W-2 agencies have been illegally told they don't qualify. This is hardly the streamlining that was promised when many agencies and shelters were denied the right to give out referrals for these federal funds. Because of their incompetence, SDC will lose their W-2 contract in 2013, and this was decided only after numerous warnings to the agency form the state and federal government.
Most mothers at Casa Maria would attest that this type of incompetence is all too common at W-2 agencies. In fact, the Wisconsin Congressional Legislative Audit Committee reports that only 20% of W-2 participants have left poverty level one year after they leave W-2. This mirrors a study by the University of Chicago and University of Wisconsin which showed W-2 does nothing to get people out of poverty. Last year, Israel dumped Wisconsin's welfare-to-work model and declared it an utter failure after trying it for four years. It is time for Wisconsin to do the same and overhaul our dilapidated welfare-to-work system.
Interesting Facts about W-2...
Blacks, Latinos, American Indians, and multi-racial parents are sanctioned (kicked off W-2 or having cash benefits reduced) at a higher rate than whites with no discernable differences in client actions. This same disparity was found in 2004 and in 2001 and no action has yet to be taken. -Department of Workforce Development
Wisconsin Republicans have pushed for changes that would allow only 30% of a client's weekly "work hours" to be used for schooling. Previously this was up to the discretion of caseworkers. -jsonline.com
If W-2 clients were allowed to attend college while on W-2, there would be no extra cost to taxpayers. -Mother Warriors Voice
W-2 cash assistance will soon be set at $653 a month. This will not raise a family of three to even 50% of the poverty line. -wawhbudgetblog.wordpress.com
Any W-2 caseworker can also deem someone "job ready" meaning W-2 does not have to supply any job training since the client is deemed to have enough skills to land a job. The Wisconsin Court of Appeals found this practice to be illegal in 2007. -wccf.org
W-2 agencies no longer have to provide an oral explanation before docking a client's W-2 pay or take a series of steps documenting "good cause" for imposing a penalty when the GOP Legislature's changes go into effect. -jsonline.com
In 1986, regular welfare cost Wisconsin taxpayers $548 million to serve 300,000 clients. W-2 today costs $619 million and serves 15,000 clients. -jsonline.com Mother Warriors Voice
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