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For Immediate Release November 18, 2000

                          FOR WORKING FAMILIES
                           November 18, 2000

Today in his weekly radio address, President Clinton will announce new steps to support low-income working families by improving access to nutritional assistance. The President will unveil a new Food Stamp Program regulation that will allow states to: provide transitional benefits to families leaving welfare; make it easier for families receiving food stamps to own a reliable car to get to work; simplify the application process and reporting requirements so it is less time consuming for working families; and implement various eligibility changes for legal immigrants. The President also will call on Congress to restore food stamp benefits to certain legal immigrants, raise the minimum wage, promote responsible fatherhood and increase the child support paid directly to low-income families, which builds on the Clinton-Gore Administration's strong record of supporting working families and promoting fairness for legal immigrants.

Increasing Access to Food Stamps for Working Families. On November 21, 2000, the U.S. Department of Agriculture will release a final, new Food Stamp Program regulation that will make it easier for eligible working families to access food stamps. First, this regulation allows states to provide a three-month transitional food stamp benefit to help support households leaving welfare for work. Second, it simplifies existing rules on how the value of a vehicle is counted toward eligibility limits and excludes certain low-equity vehicles from consideration altogether, thus providing nutritional support to 100,000 individuals in households that own a reliable car necessary to get to work. Third, the rule allows states to relieve working families of the requirement to report modest income changes for up to six-months at a time, reducing the amount of time these families need to spend in food stamp offices. Finally, it strengthens systems to ensure that food stamp cases are not closed without review when a family leaves cash assistance and requires states to inform applicants that many rules that apply to cash assistance, such as time limits, do not apply to food stamp eligibility.

Addressing Legal Immigrant Access to Food Stamps. This rule minimizes unnecessary access barriers for eligible immigrants and eligible members of mixed status households, which include both citizens and immigrants, as part of finalizing the eligibility changes for legal immigrants that were enacted in the 1996 welfare reform law and in subsequent legislation. The rule details how a sponsor's income factors into the calculation of an immigrant's eligibility and excuses indigent immigrant households who cannot afford food and housing from having such income deemed as their own. It also codifies eligibility restrictions on certain legal immigrants first implemented in 1997.

Building on a Strong Record of Supporting Working Families. Since taking office, the Clinton-Gore Administration has significantly expanded critical supports for working families, securing nearly 200,000 new rental housing vouchers, raising the minimum wage, expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit, doubling child support collections and child care funding, improving access to jobs by supporting creative local transportation solutions, and giving families strong incentives and new opportunities to move from welfare to work. This Fall, the Administration and Congress worked together and enacted common sense changes to the Food Stamp Program, making it easier to own a reliable car and recognizing the impact of high housing costs on low-income working families. Today, the President will call on Congress to continue this progress by restoring food stamp benefits to legal immigrants, improving child support and fostering responsible fatherhood, and passing a $1 increase in the minimum wage.

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