September 12, 2019

Statement by Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury and Commissioners Sharon Meieran, Susheela Jayapal, Jessica Vega Pederson and Lori Stegmann: 

The Trump Administration has proposed yet another federal rule change targeting low-income families, which would eliminate a policy option known as “Broad-Based Categorical Eligibility”.

Currently, the Broad-Based Categorical Eligibility policy option grants states the authority to use a higher income test and asset limits when determining Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) eligibility. 

In Oregon, this policy option allows us to serve more working households that have significant expenses for housing and child care. If this rule change is put into effect, the Oregon Department of Human Services estimates 35,000 Oregon families would lose their SNAP benefits. 

In Multnomah County, we know SNAP is the first line of defense against hunger in our community. When 40 percent of households in Multnomah County spend more than a third of their income on housing, changes like this mean vulnerable families will be faced with the choice between feeding their families or paying their rent and bills. 

SNAP is the nation’s largest nutrition assistance program, helping millions of families put food on the table. In 2018 alone, SNAP provided food for 119,755 people each month in Multnomah County, including young children, children in school and their working parents, older adults, and people living with a disability. By providing families with access to healthy food, families are able to save more money for emergencies and medical expenses, thereby reducing their risk of falling into houselessness during challenging times. 

As the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners, we strongly oppose this change. We urge the Trump Administration to withdraw the proposed rule and protect the rights of families, seniors, and people with disabilities to access the healthy and nutritious food they need in order to thrive.