Sweeney Honored by Anti-Poverty Network of New Jersey
Trenton – Senate President Steve Sweeney was given the Anti-Poverty Network of New Jersey’s Legislative Champion of the Year award. Senator Sweeney was recognized for his efforts to expand the Emergency Assistance program, increase the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families benefit amount for the first time in 30 years, and his continued advocacy for programs and services for those most in need.
“I believe the most important mission of government is to help those struggling to support themselves,” said Senator Sweeney (D-Gloucester/Salem/Cumberland). “And looking back at these last few years, I’m proud of what we’ve achieved. The lifetime limit on Emergency Assistance was needlessly harsh and when you think about the kind of financial shape a family has to be in to qualify for TANF, providing cost of living adjustment can make all the difference.
“I know there is a lot of work yet to do. The problems that cause someone to become homeless are hard to solve, and breaking the cycle of poverty can be even harder, but when I look to our past successes, I’m optimistic about the future and what we can achieve together.”
After Governor Murphy vetoed the initial senate bill sponsored by Senator Sweeney to expand the Emergency Assistance program, the Legislature passed nearly identical legislation by an overwhelming majority that would withstand another veto by the Governor.
Before the law, Emergency Assistance had a lifetime cap and was generally limited to 12 months, with additional assistance for up to six or 12 months in cases of extreme hardship. Under the new law, individuals are only able to ‘reset their benefits clock’ after seven years one time, meaning any months of assistance accrued more than seven years earlier would not count towards the 12 month limit.
The TANF program, which is time-limited, assists families with children when the parents or other responsible relatives cannot provide for the family’s basic needs. The Federal government provides grants to states to run the TANF program and New Jersey has increased the amount of money a family can receive from this program for the first time in three decades.
“We were incredibly honored to have the Senate President with us today,” Renee Koubiadis, Executive Director of Anti-Poverty Network of New Jersey. “There is no stronger advocate in Trenton for the underserved and impoverished communities in our state, and I am sure we will be working closely with Senator Sweeney in the years to come so that together we can make a fairer, more equitable New Jersey.”
The Anti-Poverty Network of New Jersey (APN) is a diverse and growing network focused on preventing, reducing, and ending poverty in New Jersey. Through a focus on the empowerment of all anti-poverty stakeholders, from individuals to organizations, the network focuses on the systemic change that can truly advance the fight against poverty.