Help that doesn’t go far |

Help that doesn’t go far

Vail Daily Editorial

Supporting a couple of kids on $10 an hour may not be that bad in Mississippi. But it’s downright impossible in Vail, Colo. Problem is, the federal government doesn’t adjust the guidelines for welfare programs for resort areas like ours. So when the federal government says a single mom with one child must make less than $2,111 a month to qualify for aid, it leaves local people who need help out in the cold. The truly aggravating thing is this situation prompts some residents to create situations in which they can earn less just so they can qualify for some kind of government aid. For example, some single moms are taking part-time jobs so they won’t make too much to qualify for some kind of help. Doesn’t exactly embody the intent of welfare programs, does it? The federal poverty guidelines are tied to the federal minimum wage, which hasn’t changed from $5.15 an hour since 1997. In the meantime, the median cost of a home in the U.S. went up 63 percent between 1997 and 2004. While the federal government allows for citizens to make up to 200 percent of the poverty cap and still qualify for some help, it still isn’t enough to address Vail-area residents who are truly struggling to make ends meet. One good thing that will come out of the county’s early childhood funding is the ability to close that gap a little bit for residents. By the end of May, a local family of two with an income of $2,567 will be able to get some help. It’s probably not enough to keep all single parents from cutting back on work to qualify for more benefits. But it’s a start. In the meantime, let’s hope local and state workers who are in the business of qualifying residents for help will campaign for a new definition for the working poor, taking into account the cost of living in the modern day and age. And opponents of bringing the minimum wage to livable standards may want to consider the cost of their stance. Desperate people will take desperate measures, regardless. Either way, the taxpayers will have to pay. – Tamara Miller for the Editorial Board

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