Sign up FAST! Login

What Happens If You Have No Welfare and No Job?

Stashed in: Women, Economics!, Wealth!, Awesome, inequality, America!, economics, Poverty, Parents, Economics

To save this post, select a stash from drop-down menu or type in a new one:

If you're a mom with no legitimate source of cash and kids to take care of, how do you get by? Before politicians congratulate themselves too much on getting people off welfare, every American needs to think about how hard it would be to live in this situation.

This article is poignant and thoughtful. And sad. Thank you for stashing it, Joyce.

sad. i want to believe that guaranteed income, though small, would help a lot. 

Guaranteed income definitely helps to give them hope of getting their heads above water. 

The most devastating part was learning how the women tried to eke out a living without a regular source of income:

  • The jobs they were qualified for were not in any way flexible:They paid close to minimum wage, had unpredictable schedules, and did not include paid sick or family leave. Several of the Michigan women worked for temp agencies. They would show up after an hours-long commute, only to be told that there was no work that day and that they should return home. The L.A. women said they were discriminated against because of their status: “They want to pay me super, super, super cheap, because the people know the situation and know that you can’t go around complaining,” one said.
  • They pieced together side jobs to get by: One L.A. woman sold cooked corn—a popular local street food — for five hours a day. She said she liked it because it was otherwise too hard to find “a good boss who will give you time to be with [her kids].”
  • Childcare was a major hurdle: Several women said they didn’t trust the local babysitters and unregulated day-care facilities. They faced long wait-lists for childcare subsidies, and babysitters, when available, were hard to schedule because the moms worked irregular hours. “It was horrible because I was struggling with babysitters for my girls. The babysitters, they would quit on me,” one said. This was similar to the transportation catch-22: Several women said they could not search for work further away because they had no car, but they needed a job to buy one. 
  • TANF was described as more arduous to enroll in than other programs: The women found the enrollment process for food stamps, WIC (the nutrition program for new moms), and disability insurance easier than the one for TANF. One woman described her TANF enrollment appointment as lasting from eight in the morning until two in the afternoon, and several mentioned they had their TANF benefits cancelled for reasons they couldn’t understand. One said she didn’t like the stigma associated with receiving TANF: “At first I didn’t really like the cash aid ‘cause I guess a lot of people talk about it. They say it’s just for lazy people that don’t wanna work or stuff like that. It’s not that I don’t wanna work ‘cause I do wanna work, but I can’t find a job.” A few Michigan women also said TANF’s employment program, Work First, didn’t actually help anyone get jobs and prevented them from picking up their kids from school on time.
  • Housing was cramped, informal, and unstable: “After Gina lost her job in Michigan in 2008, she applied for TANF, but it took several months for her to be approved. In that time, she lost her housing because she could not pay the rent,” the report authors write. Her story deteriorated from there: She and her five children lived in eight different places in two years. When they moved into a hotel, one of the kids was removed from Gina’s custody after Child Protective Services was tipped off. “We had stayed in a hotel room and everything. “They want to pay me super, super, super cheap, because the people know the situation and know that you can’t go around complaining."I felt like that was better than hopping from house to house, you know what I’m saying? But the judge didn’t agree with that,” Gina said. When Gina finally found an accommodating landlord, “the house looked as if it might be abandoned, with the front steps crumbling, pieces of siding ripped from the structure, and a front door that appeared to be coming off of its hinges. Inside, the house contained almost no furniture, just a television and the kids’ toys. And, Gina had recently found out that the house was in foreclosure and she would have to move again.”
  • They have no spending money: The women talked about how they had eliminated virtually every discretionary expense from their lives, including cable, movies, and restaurants. “We really don’t have no expenses because there’s a lot of things we can’t do. Get our hair done, all that. That’s like out the window. Like now, they need summer clothes, and now I’m just figuring out what’s the next move for that,” one woman said.
  • They’re depressed: One-third of the women in the sample showed visible signs of depression and anxiety, while nearly all of them told the interviewers they were “stressed out.” Two said they had experience domestic violence, and one was in a relationship she considered unsafe.
  • They rely on dangerous “last resort” sources of income:  “Gina sold plasma on a regular basis; she was such a regular that she had a debit card from the donation center that would be loaded with cash after each trip,” the report authors write. “Jean moved back into the home of her emotionally abusive ex-husband.” One woman said she relied on male friends to pay for her groceries, but then had to fend off their sexual advances: “He wants to stay the night, and thinking he’s gonna get over. No, you’re not gonna get over on me. Just because you bought me eight rolls of tissue paper [laughter] and some dish rags and stuff, you’re not gonna get over.”

I really feel for these women.

It's becoming too easy in our society to fall so far down that it's difficult to ever get up.

Not so funny thing is, this can happen to anyone. And child care is absolutely out of reach for minimum wage jobs. 

In the 20th century we used to talk about a safety net so good people down on their luck could recover.

I don't hear politicians talk about that anymore. 

And that's a sadly good point about child care.

You May Also Like: