Minnesota welfare program to offer first raises in 33 years

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Families in a Minnesota welfare program will see their benefits increase for the first time in 33 years effective Saturday.

Starting Feb. 1, the maximum cash grant will increase by $100 a month for participants in the Minnesota Family Investment Program. The program provides temporary support and employment to more than 29,000 families with children per month who are experiencing poverty. The increase will raise the maximum payment for a typical family of three to $632 a month.

The 2019 Legislature approved the increase at the urging of Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov Peggy Flanagan, who called an increase long overdue. The cost of living has more than doubled since the state last raised the cash assistance in 1986. And the increase comes at a time of rising rents and declining food stamp benefits.

“It’s better than nothing, but it’s not nearly enough,” said Tori Boyer, a mother of three in the program.

The Department of Human Services says children make up 72 percent of those in the program. Most parents who apply work in low-wage industries or hourly jobs with unpredictable and inconsistent schedules. More than 40 percent of the families are able to leave the program in less than a year.