Federal food assistance work requirements reinstated for Kent and Ottawa County

Posted at 2:04 PM, Nov 30, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-30 18:23:37-05

LANSING, Mich. - Some Kent and Ottawa County residents on food assistance from the federal government will have to meet new work requirements starting in 2017, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS).

Able-bodied adults without dependents in Kent, Ottawa, Oakland and Washtenaw counties will be required by the federal government to meet the work requirements that had been waived for more than the last decade if they want to continue to receive food assistance.  The MDHHS administers the benefits to approximately 14,000 people in the four counties.  The requirements had been waived since 2002 due to high unemployment rates.

Starting January 1, all able-bodied recipients aged 18-to-49 who do not have a disability that prevents them from working or other federal exemptions must do one of these things to continue to receive food assistance:

  • Working an average of 20 hours per week each month in unsubsidized employment.
  • Participating for an average of 20 hours per week each month in an approved employment or training program.
  • Participating in community service by volunteering at a nonprofit organization.

The new requirements are being instituted in the four counties first due to lower unemployment rates.  MDHHS says that they expect the rest of the state to be phased out by October 2018.

The MDHHS says that phasing in these work requirements goes along with their goal of assisting residents in finding employment to achieve "self-sufficiency, end generational poverty and realize their dreams."  The department began sending notices out this month.

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