Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

FOOD STAMPS ; Automatic Exemptions for Homeless Axed; Cases Will Be Individually Evaluated

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

FOOD STAMPS ; Automatic Exemptions for Homeless Axed; Cases Will Be Individually Evaluated

Article excerpt

Homeless people in West Virginia will not automatically be exempt from requirements to work or train in order to keep their food- stamp benefits, officials say. Instead, homeless people will be evaluated and exempted from the requirements on a case-by-case basis. Regulations for the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program do not allow for blanket exemptions based on homelessness, said Allison Adler, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Health and Human Resources.

A spokesman for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees SNAP, confirmed that homelessness is not cause for exemption but can be an indication that a person is "unfit for work and thus is not required to.

The DHHR told the Gazette-Mail in June it planned to exempt residents of homeless shelters and those who don't stay at the same place for more than 90 days.

Starting Oct. 1, the state's policy will say exemptions for the chronically homeless will be considered on a case-by-case basis, Adler said.

"Chronic homelessness, by itself, is not an exemption to the [able-bodied adults without dependents] work requirements, but may be a result of a potential mental or physical condition which renders the individual unfit for work, the policy will say.

"The eligibility worker should evaluate high-risk populations for the ability to be fit for work. The definition of chronic homelessness is different from the homeless definition for SNAP. The definition of chronic homelessness is the lack of consistent living arrangements, including homeless shelters, for a period of 90 days prior to the date of the determination or the client has an extended history that demonstrates a pattern suggesting the inability to find suitable, long-term housing.

"A client who is chronically homeless and who has not visited a medical professional in years may be exempted from the ABAWD work requirements if he has obvious physical or mental conditions that would prevent the individual from working, the policy will say. …

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