State welfare rolls could be at lowest point ever

SEATTLE — Washington state welfare usage is at perhaps the lowest point ever.

The Seattle Times reported that about 43,000 state families received welfare in October. That’s the fewest number of recipients since at least 1990.

Some of that change appears to be from policies that took effect in early 2011 that lowered eligibility and made it more difficult to get extensions. The state says lower caseloads are saving the state hundreds of millions of dollars.

But the welfare rolls are shrinking at a time when other signs of poverty are on the rise. Medicaid and food stamp usage has risen since 2011. Homeless shelters report that more people are relying on their services.

Social services lobbyist Nick Federici says the 2011 changes to welfare rules may have been a success for fiscal policy, but he contended that it’s not a success for humanitarian policy.

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