Nutritional Support / Preventing Hunger
Reduced barriers to obtaining Food Stamp benefits:
1. Pressed DHS to reduce the 27-page application to 4 pages for the elderly (effective April 2009). We are working on reducing it for all applicants!
2. A reform in the DHS Food Stamp (SNAP) administration that waives the asset test (so people can maintain a whole life insurance policy) and increases the income eligibility level for applying for food stamp benefits to 185% of federal poverty, up from 135%. (effective March 1, 2009)
Affordable Energy / Preventing Cold & securing basic utility services year round
Reduced “protected” customer utility shut-offs (despite an overall increase in utility shut-offs) by empowering low-income householders to exercise their right for a hearing with the Division of Public Utilities and winning:
1. A new H-EAT program in Rhode Island to bring an extra $10 million a year in food stamp benefits to 10,000 qualified persons living in subsidized housing. (November 2008)
2. Succeeded in pressing DHS to pilot Saturday hours for Food Stamp Application Interviews every other week in South County
3. Convinced Governor Carcieri to fill seven vacant Food Stamp office slots to
accommodate program growth in 2008 (effective April 2009)
4. Won a 50% restoration of the state’s 100% funding cut to school breakfast program
5. Successful in passing the ‘Henry Shelton Act’ – LIHEAP Enhancement Plan in July 2011 which allows for an arrearage forgiveness program for low-income, disabled and elderly Rhode Islanders.
6. Won an extension of the Winter Moratorium to continue the ban on utility shut-offs through May 1, 2011 for the “protected” class of customers.
7. Secured interpretive ruling by the Public Utility Commission in 2009 backing the right of “protected customers” to move (change residences) during the winter moratorium without facing a utility shut-off
8. Obtained a waiver in the regulations to allow acceptance of 10% of the past due bill for restoration of utility service for low-income customers.
9. Set highest standard in nation for protecting children (under 24 months of age) from the negative health consequences of electric or gas utility shut-offs through a legislative ban enacted in June, 2008
10. Obtained an early release of 100 gallons of emergency home heating oil using LIHEAP funds so customers with empty oil burners could stay warm at the start of last year’s cold season.
11. First state in the US to implement a moratorium on electric shut-offs on high heat index days.
12. Early release of food stamp (SNAP) benefits prior to Thanksgiving and Christmas
Heat / Utility Justice:
1. Protecting children under six years of age from the negative, long-term health and developmental consequences of having their utilities shut-off at home
2. Defending and ensuring the legal right of appeal for people who have had their household utilities shut off
3. End all the weatherization waiting lists at RI’s eight Community Action Program
agencies and promote weatherization among LIHEAP recipients
4. A simplified Food Stamp application process with more flexibility to reach the eligible people who are without benefits.
5. Universal free school breakfasts in all public schools
6. 100% refundable tax credit so all qualified tax payers equally receive RI’s Earned Income Tax Credit allowance of 25% federal EITC (H-122 and S-5404)
7. Support for RI budget and tax reforms that decrease the unfair burden on working families, fixed low-income and unemployed persons.